Rarely does my daily horoscope speak truth specifically to me, but today was a welcome exception:
“Old people are just as happy as young ones. Trust that the years will be good to you, and allow yourself to develop naturally. Stop worrying so much.”
If you are anything like me, uncertainty has become the unwelcome guest at the table in midlife. Not to say that there wasn’t plenty of it before age 40 or 45. Perhaps it just became more obvious in midlife, or more so for our generation.
I have given this new development a lot of thought since I started writing my third book, about what is unique in the emotional experience of boomers. What do we share as the largest demographic in American history?
The new information may be that there truly is no certainty, even though we were raised to think there is. Our parents tried to raise us with some sense of certainty or control over our future, but then, come to find out, there isn’t.
Sure we can try to save lots of money, take care of our health, and buy long-term care insurance, but what about climate change, the next “great recession” or the fiscal cliff? Will Medicare be there when we need it? How much can we know about the future of health care costs? Good luck feeling “certain” about your future, and especially that of your children and grandchildren.
What I have been forced to discover is that certainty is one illusion I must let go of. Between unemployment and chronic illness, we live one day at a time over at our house. I finally realized, worrying about what might happen tomorrow is like paying interest on a loan I may never need to acquire.
When I think back to the many uncertainties I faced back when I first turned 50 in 2005, I see most of my worries worked out fine. I had just met Mike, my soon-to-be new husband. I had no job or health insurance, and had just run out of money with nothing for my next house payment. This was by far the most uncertainty I had ever faced in my life.
From these grim beginnings came the most loving and supportive relationship of my life, the opportunity to start over in my new career as a writer, and the BEST decade of my life so far!
I can only see now how much I learned from losing a small part of my “control” over my future. Here are a few things I learned from living up-close and personal with uncertainty: humility is healthy, hard times bring loved ones closer together, and compassion for self and others is the only way to share the wealth of being alive.
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