70 and Out of Gas
My friend Sue and I are on parallel roads toward—wellness? Or is it ‘certainty' we are seeking? Or purpose? Forgiveness? All of the above? I can’t say for sure what the light at the end of the tunnel will unveil, but I can say that we both know we want to continue to explore until we get there. And we share the mishaps, or should I say experiences, along the way.
Both of us are seventy now. I have never felt the weight of age, ever—until now. I think about being seventy more than I ever thought about any age before this one. I think about time lost. I think about a limited future. I think about the precious commodity of time, which I never put much stock into until the last few years. I think about goals and making sure I’m spending my time on that which will make me pause with a smile at the end of the day, saying softly to my needy self, “You nailed it, Chris.”
Sue and I call each other, in the midst of the angst and the struggles and the joys, to get reinforcement for time well spent—or maybe just to laugh at our own absurdity.
We want to get it right. Not just get to the promised land that we can’t even describe, but to get the journey to that destination right. To pay attention to the details as we explore. To try and be safe while we navigate waters in which we don’t feel qualified to swim. Have I ever mentioned that I love swimming? In a lane. Counting the laps. With goggles. In a heated, chlorinated pool. I recognize that anyone can do that and enjoy it. No risk anywhere in that. Maybe I should be trying to swim across the water at my cousin’s property on the coast of Maine just a few miles from my house—swimming without the ease of stopping if I’m tired, or with concern for a shark mistaking me for a seal, and, and, and …
Sue called me yesterday to tell me that, at seventy, she ran out of gas for the first time in her life. She was driving home in the middle of a book she’s loving listening to. Not only did she run out of gas, but her significant other had told her that the low fuel light was on the night before when he ran to the pharmacy the night before. She had to walk half a mile to a gas station to get a jug of gas, and she asked a woman who was filling up if she could drive her back to her car. The woman said, “Oh, I run out of gas all the time. I even have the funnel you’re going to need to fill your tank.” She drove Sue back to her car.
“Well, here’s the upside,” I said, trying, as I do these days, to find silver linings in this coat of life that is worn thin—worn out, I tell you. “You made a new friend. You fixed the problem, and you’re laughing about it now. How we deal with the obstacles is what matters. And, since you’re getting rid of friends that no longer belong in your calendar, it’s nice to meet someone you might have something in common with. Running out of gas, that is. That could be your new thing. Just sayin’ … ” Silence on her end.
So I regrouped. “Don’t you drive a Mercedes? Seems to me a car that expensive should tell you when you’re going to run out of gas.” Sue laughed, and agreed with me. Sometimes we just want to put the blame elsewhere, but we both know that owning our mishaps, mistakes, and outright wrong behavior is part of the journey and is not a bad thing.
Sometimes our calls are only a few minutes long. But having that sounding board, that sister from another mother, is such a strong, positive part of the uncharted, uncomfortable journey I am traveling these days. Thank you, my friend, for the memories we are making—together and alone. They go into my gratitude journal every day. And, I love the journey we are on, even if I can’t yet see the goalpost.