There is a story in today’s New York Times headlined “Boomers Hit New Self-absorption Milestone: Age 65.” I don’t know how old the headline writer is, but Dan Barry, the columnist, is just 17 months older than I am, so he gets a pass for hitting so close to home (“In keeping with a generation’s fascination with itself, the time has come to note the passing of another milestone….”).
Guilty, as charged. I could rationalize my navel gazing in a number of ways (I’m an only child, I live by myself, etc., etc.) but the primary truth is that I feel the passing of time – and my own shortcomings and unmet potential – acutely. A recovering perfectionist who regularly falls off the wagon, I feel the need to make up for lessons unlearned and mistakes made, as the sands seem to slip through the hourglass more quickly each day.
I spent a very long time living a life that I thought other people wanted me to live; I know that I am not alone. It’s taken me several subsequent years to start figuring out what’s important to me. How can any of us be true to ourselves if we don’t know who we are?
Over the last week, the baby boomer piece, two other articles from this morning’s NY Times, a marathon reading of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, continued serious sleep problems and six days with my elderly father have been added to the pile of other recent clues from the universe. Like a thousand tiny dots of color on canvas, they are slowly coming together to form a picture, a road map of what I need to do to live my life so that it is a true extension of the woman who waits, half-unearthed, deep within.
Aligning the outer life with the inner me will continue to be an exercise in trial and error. But I feel that I’m finally starting to plot a course to a future in which I’m a whole human being. I have to believe that it’s never too late.