Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Not old, yet!

I thought I am getting old, and this morning I figured out that I don’t. I mean: I do, but not to the extent that I thought I did... Do I make any sense at all?

See, recently I thought I couldn’t keep up with life anymore. For so many years I have only been arranging myself around hubby and the occasional night out with IL, or dinner with friends, and things were fine. Now some younger people – and with this I mean a quarter of a century younger people – have entered my life and I feel like falling apart.

Don’t get me wrong: I love being around them. It is inspiring and fresh and they are lovely. We cook together and go to the movies and watch movies at our house – it’s just that I am exhausted, my head is buzzing and I am feeling like having aged a decade within a couple of month. This being a development which I am not appreciative about, I decided to question the 'age' conclusion.

At first I thought I might have been too settled, with spontaneous activity being kept to a minimum. I once wrote that one needs routine for the nitty-gritty bits of life to free up time for spontaneity. Had I introduced too much routine? All too often conversations go like this these days:

Question/suggestion: 'Let's go to the movies!'

Me: 'Well, what is on? We could go next Thursday.'

Response: 'Oh no, I meant tonight!'

Me: 'TONIGHT!?... tonight... - ahemm'... gaining time... 'hmm... What is on?'

Response: 'Oh, doesn’t matter! Let's just go!'

Me: ...still gaining time with harrumphing, and quickly thinking about when I have to get up next morning, what I wanted to do that night, how much sleep I had last and will have next night, and if I will survive... 'What time, did you say?...'

Those negotiations usually go on for a while, my cool is gone at that stage, and while everybody is getting impatient, I feel the need to explain myself, what makes the whole matter worse.

When my goddaughter came to visit I knew she would stay for a week and I would dedicate this period of time. That seems to be an important thing to me: Being able to dedicate time. There it was again! The planning ahead thing. Why do I have to plan ahead so much?

Feedback was needed and I interviewed hubby. He tried to be kind in reminding me, that movies never really where my thing. He had a point there, and movies quite often were on the agenda, I however realised that I wouldn’t be up for anything else either. This was a dead end: Was it old age after all?

Now the subject started to follow me. Even Nury wrote a column on '22 signs you have grown up' meaning that you 'got old'. Oh my goodness... don’t get me started.

This at least triggered another thought: What if the theory that children are keeping you young, is wrong? What if they only hold a mirror into your face? What if the solution lies in the choice of social environment? During my holidays I felt perfectly young, sipping my cocktails with 60+ year olds. Blissful moments!

The final clue however came during my morning gym session with my dear friend Imola who is 10 years younger than me. I felt like a spring chicken and hence down the drain went the theory above. And then, while concentrating on my exercise ahead, the mind floated for a split second, and I knew! All of a sudden the burden fell off me and I was one with the world again: It was not my age; it was my lifestyle!

It IS the social environment, but it doesn't have anything to do with age. I am a morning person, and I am surrounded by evening people. With Imola, who is an early bird as well, I felt entirely at ease.

In order to fit into the night owl’s lifestyle I am eating my food at the wrong time of the day, and although I love going to the gym in the mornings I go in the evenings. I like to get up early to do the main housework and pet care, because it gives a clean start into the day – it feels accomplished! I like to sit at the computer early because this is the time of the day when my brain is working well. In the meantime the night people are either in bed or nurturing their morning grump.

I like lunches instead of dinners, but by that time owls only have arrived at breakfast. When they are eventually running up to full speed at night, all I am able to do is to hang in my arm chair keeping hubby company at the telly – something which so far was recognised as a valid and appreciated activity, even if I nodded off.

Now that had changed. All of a sudden I am supposed to be really active at night, meaning that now there is a rather big likelihood of not only performing badly in the gym, but at my morning activities as well. And on top of it all nobody seems to understand why I am such a killjoy when all they wanted to do, is to introduce all this fun into my life. Well, I didn’t understand it myself...

This newly introduced spontaneity is throwing my carefully balanced life completely out of whack. Going to the gym at the wrong time of the day for the benefit of doing something together with hubby is a compromise I am happy to handle, but I cannot compromise on my writing. I can handle spontaneous actions once every fortnight or so, but not several times a week. For everything that needs a shower and hair-wash I’d like to have two days notice, please!

See, and because I am actively voicing my constraints and visibly leaving the scene when everybody else is at their prime, I am a killjoy and weirdo. Owls just passively and invisibly don't show up when I am at my best. Everythging that is not there cannot be weird, and hence they are the 'normal' people.

I am herewith proposing a swap-over scheme. One month I will adjust my lifestyle to the night people and going out with them, and the other month they will have adjust to my ways. Getting up at 5:30, helping with the housework and the pets; when having the morning coffee, I could do an hour of writing, while they do their facebook and internet stuff, and then we could be at the gym by 7AM; coming home by 9 AM to have a shower and a quick breakfast, to then set out for work at 10 – their usual time. On non-gym days we would either do the groceries shopping, or would start work at 8. This way enabled to leave by 4PM we could do some outdoor sport, run errands, or meet friends.

Let’s see who’s up for movies at night, then!

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