Aging is not an illness. Though there are often physical constraints that have to be acknowledged, there are also plateaus of wellness that are rarely addressed. (A number of us have survived all the childhood illnesses and many viruses, after all, and we have those antibodies.) I am presently experiencing such a plateau.
Oh, I don’t feel invincible by any means, but I do routinely wake up with a feeling that there’s something magical on the horizon. Often it turns out to be just a small epiphany or a sudden willingness to take a risk with my work. Sometimes it’s a chance meeting with someone inspirational or uninterrupted time with one of my children or grandsons. For the past year it has also included the joys of writing and completing a novel that is unlike any of my others. Now that it’s in the hands of my agent, I truly miss the characters that inhabit it and I find myself subject to little stabs of interest in continuing their lives. What I had thought might be my last book, could well be just one of a few or even more. I also have decided that a painting I’d considered a break through last winter will not be the last of its kind.
When I was younger, there was always a great urgency to complete the things I had set my mind to. At this point in my life, however, completion is not necessarily the goal. Meeting up with the characters everyday or pleasantly struggling to make an idea come alive with shape, color, and light – these are the kinds of experiences that energize my plateau and make me grateful. The published book, the finished painting – these are the bonuses and are not required to make me feel productive and whole. It’s no longer so much that I want to make a mark on the wider world, it’s more that I need to create meaning in my own while I still can.