Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hmm? I wonder...

Throughout life you'll often come upon points to ponder.  Sometimes they're profound existential type things and other times it's inconsequential stuff; either way, from time to time, we find ourselves musing, "Hmm, I wonder why…" or, "Hmm, I wonder what…"  Sometimes it's even where – as in, "Hmm, I wonder where I left my keys."  You can always recognize a contemplative soul-searching thought by the way we momentarily freeze while our eyes dart round as if they're looking for the answer in the back of our heads.  Perhaps, though, as we age, the answers aren't to be found there.


As Bill Cosby opined years ago, the brain may actually be located in the behind.  The way he told it was something to the effect of you find yourself getting up for something, but then you stop in your tracks because you don't know why you're up or where you were even headed, so you sit back down.  Just as your cheeks hit the seat, you remember.  "Oh, yeah," you proclaim as you jump up again to resume the task at hand.  I don't know if this has ever been scientifically – or anatomically – proven, but I think he may have been on to something.


I've often remarked about the effects of aging, and really, all the comments have had to do with what happens to us physically, I've yet to discuss the mental side of things (could be denial).  I'm beginning to think that along with flapping triceps, cleavage wrinkles and muffin tops, a slight decline in mental acuity may be part of the inevitable process of aging.  I shudder to think that, but I think it just the same – and I'm not the only one.  The folks at Shoebox, you know, that tiny little division of Hallmark, they think so too. 


A card I purchased recently for a friend's birthday read: "Is this the birthday when you start asking yourself life's big questions?"  The inside message continued, "Like, why did I come into this room?  I knew a minute ago."  My friend and I are both in our… mid-to-upper 40s and we can easily relate to this.  The fact that the card exists is proof to me that we are not alone.  Maybe reaching this point in life – when we experience little mental lapses – is a mid-life rite of passage.  Who knows? 


Speaking of age and birthdays, here's something that's plagued me for the past few years now – it actually started in my late 30s.  I'm never quite sure how old I am anymore.  Should I be worried?  I don't think so.  It's not like I think I'm 14, I just always seem to make myself one year older than I actually am.  See, I'm the baby of my peer group, so my friends are always turning the next year older before I do.  One can get conditioned to hearing a particular number, you know.  And the other thing that stumps me is when I try to rely on math to calculate my age.  This never works.  I was born in October so subtracting the year of my birth from the current year doesn't help at all because I won't be that age until the 10th month.  What this really means for me is that birthdays have become a little anti-climatic.   


In a few years I'll be 50 (ooh, I got chills), but I can just see it now.  When I turn 49, I'm going to think it's my 50th, then I'll spend much of that year thinking I am 50, and when I actually do turn 50 the following year, I'll be thinking, "Wasn't I 50 last year?"  See?  Anti-climatic.  I've digressed.  Shocker?  No?  I know. 


To be frank, I'm not so sure I really believe these mental lapses are truly due to an aging brain.  I just think as we get older we have a lot more going on up there.  We're juggling schedules, taking care of homes and family matters, dealing with work responsibilities, fulfilling commitments to organizations, etc… We're processing a lot of data, and as women, we are processing much of it all at once. 


So for me, I'll try not to worry if I find myself in a room without immediately knowing why I'm in there, or if I age myself prematurely, or if I find Pledge in my refrigerator (didn't actually happen, almost happened – as I stood in front of the open fridge, with can in hand, I caught myself and asked, "What the hell are you doing?").  None of these things are that tragic. 


What is beginning to worry me, though, is forgetting my train of thought while in the middle of an actual conversation.  Forgive the pun, but this one gives me pause.  Has this happened to you yet?  You're clipping along, "Blah, blah, blah…" when all of a sudden you have no idea what it was you were talking about and so you're forced to ask your listener, "What was I saying?"  They respond, "You were telling me a story."  "Oh," you say, "was it any good?"  That's when you have to wonder.


~ M.