The older I get the more I want something new. I thought with age came a certain complacency and comfort in the familiar, yet suddenly I crave novelty. I want to find a new way to tell stories. I want to redecorate the house. I want adventurous, not relaxing vacations. I want to be scared. I want to be engaged. It’s not that I want to be young again. It’s that I just don’t want to grow predictable. Perhaps it is having three millennials and one gen-zer in my life who continue to challenge my perceptions and conventions. Perhaps it is the scientific research pointing to altering routine in order to improve brain function. Perhaps it pure, simple boredom. Whatever the case, this year I found myself wanting to make new connections and have new experiences with people. Make no mistake, my family and friendships are my lifeblood. In that area, I have an abundance of riches, but no sooner had I expressed the desire aloud then it came true.
I found common ground with someone to whom I once stood in stark opposition. I reconnected with a family member I hadn’t spoken with in over a decade. A friend from middle school contacted me on facebook. I took an art class and became friends with a woman who sat next to me. Someone from my very first mommy group contacted me to get together for dinner. I became friends with a couple who attended a book signing. I attended the baby shower for the child of a former neighbor. My daughter introduced me to a couple she waited on during her summer job. I met women at a conference and gathered with them over dinner in New York City. I collaborated with a composer using one of my books. I had lunches with a writer I admire. I attended a celebration for someone I’d only spoken with at an annual holiday party. Nothing earth shattering, but enough to remind me that my circle can always widen to welcome more.
Even though a return to my younger self has never been my goal, opening my world to new people has invigorated me in a way that youth never did. I have found it is a gift to yourself to continue to grow and question and challenge. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You must do the things you think you cannot do.” And she should know, Eleanor hit her stride in her fifties and kept right on going.
One of my fondest and most embarrassing memories of my mother occurred one afternoon when I returned home from high school with a group of my girlfriends. About a block from my home, we heard the loud strains of what sounded like the theme music from Arabian Nights. As we got closer, I realized the music was coming from my street, and, more specifically, my home. I raced upstairs ahead of my friends to discover my then fifty-five year old mother, in our living room, swaying her hips and arms to music. I’d forgotten she’d just signed up for bellydancing classes. Too late, I realized my friends were behind me, watching, as I was, with a mix of horror, amusement and awe. I was angry for nearly a week. When the bellydancing classes ended, she began taking Spanish, then bread baking, yoga, tai chi. At ninety-one, she still continues to take classes to keep her nursing credentials current. “You never know…” she says. As a tribute to her legacy, At 40, I too signed up for a bellydancing class and watched my son’s disgusted face with delight as he peered through the window of the classroom as my hips swayed and my arms waved. My mother’s openess to new ideas, keeps her energized and engaged and reminds me that life doesn’t shrink with age. If you nurture it, will grow.
Here’s to novelty. And the comfort and beauty of the the familiar. And how those two worlds help each to blossom.