During our tenure here At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn, we have always reveled in the age differences of guests choosing our inn for their Getaway. Recently we benefited from Life lessons provided by an Octogenarian. She came alone to the inn and was not in the least concerned with fitting in to the very "youth oriented" crew we had on board that particular weekend.
She was embracing her age, claiming it fully and seemed genuinely not only comfortable- but even grateful regarding her age. Further, she stated it was among the happiest and most contented times of her life. Curious, I asked if she was at liberty to share the reason for her feelings. She complied and we discussed it all for the better part of an hour. The hour was golden and in the full belief that the wisdom she shared with me could benefit us all mightily, with her permission I will share some of her thoughts.
Most of the feelings she shared were not gender specific but as I feel the first one largely was-- I will begin there. Her belief was that women were slaves of fashion expectation, looks and being judged exclusively on their outward appearance. In view of that, they were made to feel that they had to keep up with all parts of that.... even that which was physically uncomfortable e.g. heels, hose, and all the trappings of glamour. She felt that now this part of her life was largely behind her save that which she wished to engage in to make her self comfortable with her outward appearance.
She believed that elders with the benefit of years of making conclusions, interpreting behaviors, recognizing patterns, were blessed with enhanced problem solving skills and hence were in prime position to make wise and right calls the first time around.
She found that with all the tasks that used to be "on her plate" and the organizational abilities she had developed in response to manage them effectively .....that now, with many of those responsibilities removed she had a very significant amount of unscheduled, free time. It allowed her to take a class, learn something new, travel or develop a skill about which she had long held interest. To the benefit of all, this particular woman had chosen to offer volunteer hours, mentoring skills and just help of any kind to many. All those in receipt of her many kindnesses offering her love, friendship, gratitude and as much company as she needs or wants. She feels well loved and never lacks for company.
At this point in our discussion, I asked her opinion of the reputation some seniors gain for being grouchy. She didn't buy it and felt instead that the age was not the culprit. She asked if I knew grouchy young people who were often in a bad mood and lived lives of discontent. I responded that I did. She laughed and said, "Well, they will be old one day too." They will likely be the same way then.
At this point she turned the tables and asked if I liked being my age. I said that I did. She was curious as to why. I said that earlier on I had been tentative regarding many things. Often, despite much thinking and analysis while I made a decision, I was, on occasion, unsure of my decision. I know myself much better now. I know the things that will leave me at peace and the things that won't. I finally am able to hear the voice of my heart and my head and I listen when they speak to me in the knowledge that to do other than that will result in lack of inner tranquility. I have faith that largely my decisions are sound. She completely concurred.
Lastly, she said that she is finally able to take each single day as it is in the absolute knowledge that she has less of them moving forward than she has already enjoyed. She feels lucky for each one and no longer builds her happiness upon real or imagined goals like finding man, having children, getting a certain job. She is happy in the moment and each moment builds upon another and rather than be a slave to the expectations of what she thought her life would bring to her she takes enjoyment in what it is right now at this moment. I knew this and the reset of what she said was fraught with hard earned wisdom and felt it to precious to keep. Hence the blog. I hope she will come again to our home. I know I have only touched the surface of all she has to share.
Patti and Gary Wiles, Innkeepers