If you're post-menopausal and (one hopes) female, you've probably got at least as many years left as the number you spent raising your kids. Men, a little less but still plenty. What milestones might you be looking forward to in this, the second half of your one precious life?
Here's what the culture tells you to expect:
- You'll lose things: bone density, skin tone, hair (except where you don't want hair. There, you'll get lots of it, overnight and without warning), memory, energy, friends, loved ones.
- You'll need lots of pills.
- You'll decline further and die.
Society has no expectations of you in the second half of your life, in contrast to the first:
- You'll get teeth! You'll stand upright and walk! You'll enter school!
- You'll get your license! Prom! Graduation! First job!
Then what? Uh oh. See above. So that sucks. What to do, what to do?
Here's what I recommend. We're an independent bunch, right?
Let's establish our own awesome, middle-age-and-older milestones to which one can look forward with delight. If you lived in a different culture than one in which we do (the Hollywood-defined one in which, as Steve Almond says in his profoundly thoughtful introduction to Cheryl's Strayed's new book, explosions/shiny tits comprise our personhood), you might not have to do this, but since you do, you may as well revel in the freedom to make things up. So, what milestones might, in your ideal world, beckon to you in the second half of life?
Here are some ideas to get you started, and then I hope you'll contribute.
IN THE SECOND HALF OF LIFE, ONE IS EXPECTED TO AT LEAST MAKE AN EFFORT TOWARD ACCOMPLISHING THE FOLLOWING:
- Women will develop a new and highly personal sense of style, characterized by three essential elements: fashion, comfort, and making young women envious.
- Pursuit of your grand objective is expected. Whatever dream you've blathered about for the past fifty years or so - travel, a sport, painting, starting a business, writing, reading, thinking, teaching, computer expertise, living fulltime in an RV, photography, dance, singing, escaping - you'll be expected to make major moves in that direction.
- Your overriding political interest will change from your own good to the welfare of the country and planet. I.E., larger than yourself.
- Your kids will see you as an example of how to live powerfully in the second half. (They won't pity you, as in this sad little article.)
Listen, people. We're old; we're awesome - those lines in your face speak of hard-won experience. How about we tap into our power instead of giving it away by worshipping at the altar of a culture that tells us that if we're not fertile (women) or kickingass/takingnames (men), we're pointless?
Please share your utopian dreams with us.