I got an unexpected and much appreciated call from my first friend yesterday. We’re coming up on the Jewish New Year and Lynne, who I’ve known since the fifth grade, phoned from New Jersey to span the distance and reconnect for a few precious minutes. Within the flow of our conversation was an emphasis on how blessed we are to both be healthy and surrounded by love and friendship at our advanced age. Lynne celebrated (?) her 70th birthday in July, and that milestone is just around the corner for me. Old friends, we confidentially admitted to each feeling a sense of urgency as the numbers climb (or diminish, depending on your point of view.) Carpe diem! In contrast to a lifetime of following decorum, being cautious with money, work before play. Now, we’re in agreement, don’t postpone joy – do what we want, wear what pleases us, and spend on the frivolities that we may have put off in the past. If not now, when then?
The discussion made me laugh at myself. “Do what you want.” Had I recently been painting or using any of the many tools and materials I’ve collected over the years on my winding journey of personal expression? Nope. Too nice reading in the shady warmth of the back deck.
Too happy entertaining my grandson Daniel. Too many community events happening in the neighborhood and around town. And pleasure trips we couldn’t take when Mom was declining, when trips were all to look in on her well-being.
My intention the morning of the afternoon Lynne called had been to return to a partially finished watercolor in my refurbished art/craft studio. Instead I got caught up once again in a project I’ve grown passionate about – to create a system of coordinated care for middle class seniors aging in our own homes, not wealthy enough to spend on all the care we might later need, but too well-to-do to qualify for government assistance. “The missing middle.” Devoting my third day in a row to research and writing was partly self-serving and partly community service, definitely not playful, but creative in one way (community development) I love.
Perhaps “trying” to play when you prefer to be productive is not in keeping with “do what you love.” Being social when you’re an introvert is not being authentic. Following fads when you’d rather shop consignment or upcycle old clothes or furniture is just a fool’s errand. “Carpe Diem” doesn’t mean to put pressure on yourself to do any particular thing, not even play. It means “Do it now,” and at 50, 60, or 70+ let “it” be that which comes naturally from the truth-telling heart and soul of your wise old self.