Real life happened, that’s what
It was a great day earlier this year when I decided I was done adulting and ready to start olding. With olding, you’re no longer compromising with the phony expectations of the “Real World.” Instead, you’re just grown up and ready to grow, by God.
So brave. So naive. Let me tell you something, kids. Real World doesn’t like it when you try to shake her off. She’s worse than your student loan company. You try and ditch her, she will hunt you down, and one way or another, she will make you pay.
Oh, I’ve made some progress. But it’s harder than I thought it would be. Still, I’ve learned some olding tactics I wish I’d learned earlier, so I’m passing them along to you, because you might you need them someday, too. I’m done adulting. I’m olding instead.
Three secret steps to be as old as you want to be.medium.com
Aggressively come to terms with the earth suit
I was on the right track when I counseled acceptance and tolerance of your physical body and its limitations. Apparently, though, the minute someone accepts their body and says, “I like you, body, just the way you are,” Real World gets an alert and immediately takes action.
Real World seems to take that acceptance a personal insult, because the minute you accept your little body, warts and all, Real World will give that thing another damned wart. Or an itch, or an ache, or a mysterious ailment. Might be today, might be tomorrow, but count on it — there will be more to accept.
Real World is always moving the goal post for body acceptance. And even if, by a miracle, no other ailment or condition ever again afflicts that body, Real World still gloats, because of course, it is still olding. Which does have certain, well, characteristics.
So if you want to be olding righteously, you’ve got be actively working to accept a body whose condition can and will change daily and without notice.
What’s the earth suit agenda today, Real World? Oh, yeah? That’s the best you can do? Bring it on. I’m putting on some Motown.
Assertive body acceptance while olding means more than just waiting around to feel all calm and lovey about yourself. It might mean taking action.
First step? Get up offa that thing, and dance till you feel better. Play it right here:
But there’s more, and even if you can’t get up offa that thing, you’d better be prepared to do these things as needed:
- Make your doctor listen if they’re not listening. You may risk being designated a Difficult Patient. Risk it.
- Honestly say how you feel once in a while, instead of lying all the time.
- Discard any apparel that hurts, is too tight, doesn’t breathe, or makes you walk funny.
- Refuse to get on those damned scales in the doctor’s office if you don’t want to, as long as (a) they’re not monitoring your weight for a specific reason, or (b) you’re not a newborn.
Olding is not for the timid.
Really get my house in order
Next, I glibly said, be sure your surroundings are under control. Well, at least my organizer handbag is working out, and I can always find my keys. (Golf clap.)
And my habitat at least looks orderly. Everyone says it seems clean, although when my sister-in-law says that, she’s just being kind because her house really is clean.
But that’s just on the surface. I’m still holding on to much more crap than I need, though I piously call the extra stuff “emergency supplies.” Ha. That stuff wouldn’t get me more than 15 minutes into the zombie apocalypse, so who am I kidding?
And I still buy new books, though I still have dozens yet unread, and sometimes we accidentally buy something we already own. Oops. More “emergency supplies,” I say. (If mayonnaise works against zombies, we’re set.)
Real World is part of the problem. Not only does Real World bring you aches and pains, it brings you pleasure and fulfillment, and via Amazon, it brings it right to your front porch if you so much as think about it too hard.
Frankly, I am mortified. I honestly thought that by now I would have a home of austere Japanese simplicity and a wardrobe curated to 33 perfect items. Moreover, I thought I would get back all the time I formerly spent maintaining all that material. But no. I am still buying it, storing it, rotating it, dusting it, managing it at a steady state of near-capacity.
I need more aggressive tactics, both to curb stupid buying and to upgrade my minimalist standards. Here are my next steps:
- Deconstruct more things. Adulting means you add things to your “donate” bag or box. Olding means you deconstruct them first like they did in the Depression. Before I give something away, what I if I make it into something else? What if I cut off the annoying part and re-purpose the rest? What if it’s no longer good for the kitchen but perfectly good for the yard? Frugal folk have been doing this for years. I am just reclaiming the discipline out of shame for my wasteful ways. And it’s fun. I experiment with scissors and dyes and strange processes best left unspoken.
- Make sure when you donate a thing, it goes back into the right stream. Nothing dead can ever die, people.
- Make sure I can see everything on our shelves. (Note: since mayonnaise is adept at hiding, I may also write “Mayonnaise” on the jar. It hates that.)
- Keep a running list of what I need on my phone, but when I buy something, I don’t erase it, I cross it off so I can still see the word and know that I bought it. I also have to go further and write, “bought mayonnaise” on such-and-such a date. I swear to God.
- I’ll also write things like, “L’Oreal BB cream stinks,” because it does and I have forgotten this and once I bought it a second time because the packaging is pretty.
- Reject subscription services like Amazon’s because it does exactly what we don’t want — pushes us to buy more stuff. (Though it may already be too late.)
The early investments…
But my closets contain other items I am reluctant to unearth. One particular closet is filled with the detritus of past vocations and avocations and courses and projects and journals and letters. I pass that closet with dread and I think, “I’m going to have to open her up again,” like a surgeon who left sponges behind in a patient.
As a dear friend once noted, it takes more than a minute to identify whether such things have become truly valuable lieux de mémoire or just landfill. It’s not assimple as asking whether a scarf sparks joy.
If you lift such a thing out of the box where it is buried, and it does nothing for you, then you can “bless it and pitch it,” as my grandmother used to say.
But revisiting records of whole eras gone by demand times and attention. It isn’t that I dare not discard those things. I would like to discard them.
I just think I’d better not have anything else planned for that day.
But even though olding doesn’t let me escape Real World, it does let me renegotiate terms. So my next radical olding rebellion is to re-name that flotsam and jetsam of papers, memorabilia, projects, and journals. I have decided they are no longer just “things.”
They are now my Archives. And I’ll handle my Archives any way I want, Real World.
Ditch your dead dreams. Look out for new ones.
I’m still sure that healthy olding means clearing out the old, dead dreams not practically represented in the Archives. I advised finally getting rid of any lingering fantasies, the way one would finally call an Uber for those tedious party guests who never know when to leave.
The more I do that, the better it feels. But I’ve discovered that nature really doesn’t like a vacuum. I ruthlessly chased away my old dreams, and a new one turned up.
Now I fancy myself a writer, for crying out loud. Not an “author,” not really, and I still hate the word “blog” so I don’t say “blogger. But I am by God a writer who dreams of writing each day and does write each day.
I thought I was ready to set aside worldly ambition for good. But when I got rid of all the other dreams, this dream just waltzed right in and started acting like it owned the place. It invited friends over and they talk about things I don’t even want to think about, like followings and lists and branding.
These new dreams are rude and eat all my food. I don’t know where they have been all my life.
Olding the distance
So that’s what happens when you start hard-core olding. You don’t define yourself by what you thought you were going to do or be in the world. You get to define yourself by what you are doing or being in the world.
You no longer say you are retired from a career “in policy administration,” because if you have to explain what the hell that means, even one more time, you might stick a fork in your neck.
You no longer say that you once pursued an acting career, because if one more person suggests you now try some community theater, you might stick a fork in their neck.
Nuts to that. Now I’m a blogger and a reluctant poet and a stoop laborer and a preacher and a freelance editor and a dog sitter. I’m a Bob Fosse dancer wannabe who sings opera badly and also knows the entire Pips oeuvre. I’m a loudmouth at the doctor who narrowly misses being a Difficult Patient. I’m a minimalist with a lot of collections (want to make something of it)?
So go ahead, Real World. Keep on trying to get the best of me, just like you try to get the best of everyone.
You can’t win, and you know it. You’re really not the boss of me.
All I have to do is keep olding long enough.
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