The photo of the painting on the left is another piece from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Snow on Alden Brook, Neil G. Welliver, 1983). Perhaps it was the pensive mood of the weekend – my friend and I spent part of it planning a collaborative book. Perhaps it was that we passed the time in the museum sharing experiences of seniorhood. In any case, upon viewing the painting, the phrase that popped into my mind was – winter of our content – with allusion to Steinbeck and Shakespeare (The Winter of Our Discontent).
Lately I discovered that the stage of life that I dreaded for most of my life is, in fact, a wonderful time of life. In elderhood I find myself at leisure to create, to dive into relationships in ways that time did not allow previously, to be gentle with myself, to be authentic in new ways, to BE. Far from the depressing stage that I envisioned, I have entered a joyful part of my life journey.
I often find myself chuckling when I realize that there are few have to’s at this age. I do not have to work, even though I choose to be engaged in creative production. I do not have to do chores on a set schedule in order to fit everything into a work-centered lifestyle. I can sit and read when I want, enjoy sitting outside without feeling that there is something else that I have to be doing, and I find myself reminding myself that, yes, I can have extended conversations with my spouse and with friends without worrying about the have to’s. Most importantly, I find more time for spiritual contemplation.
Yes, dear reader, despite the aches and pains, the knowledge that our bodies are deteriorating, and the finality we face, this IS the winter of contentment.
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