It’s been a while since I’ve been here. Feels like my brain went on vacation and didn’t want to come back. I don’t think I can blame it on Christmas. I wasn’t particularly busy. In fact, I went out-of-town for Christmas weekend, so I didn’t even cook. New Years weekend was a lovely 3 days off with no plans or events, so as you can see – I have no excuses. In December I worked. In January, I worked.
In the process of dealing with year-end paperwork the question of vacation time has come up. This was the year I was going to make another journey back to Wyoming. Originally it was just a plan to visit again without letting so much time go by but then my friend there reminded me of the solar eclipse in August. As it turns out, the path of the eclipse goes directly over Jackson Hole (my destination) and we begin thinking about how that could work.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the area, Jackson is literally the southern entrance to Grand Teton National Park and thereby, Yellowstone. In the best of years the traffic and crowds are intense in the summer but this year it’s going to be something all together “more”. I’ve been seeing advertisements for months about places to stay and things to do while coming for the eclipse.
Although there are several reasons aside from this, I have been rethinking this trip and I don’t think it’s going to happen this year. Maybe next spring. The thing that struck me though was that the crowds and busyness didn’t even used to be a part of the conversation. But NOW the whole idea of all the people and plane schedules and traffic just sounds extremely stressful and unappealing. My friend reminded me that I would be staying with her and we know Jackson so well that it would be easy to avoid the thousands of people everywhere with eyes turned towards the sky. This is true, but it’s not really the point. Restaurants, stores, roads and especially the parks will be jam-crammed full to the gills.
But why do I hesitate?
I think it’s a combination of age and depleting energy. I see this in myself more and more when I think about a perfect vacation – or even a perfect day. I visualize quiet and peace and space. Breathing room, not excitement and adventure.
Do our preferences reflect our age, or does our age dictate our preferences?
As I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed a considerable diminishing of energy. I know that most of this (for me) is related to health issues, but not all. I think my age and my life experience just make some things sound not-so-exciting any more. Overcrowding anywhere doesn’t strike me as a good thing. I haven’t been to the mall in a couple of years.
The whole idea makes me a little sad. I miss the fearlessness of that 30-year-old I used to be. I’m not convinced more energy would bring her back and for now this is how I view the aging process – with sadness. Maybe if I could gain back some of that missing energy it would be enough to help me approach aging with fierceness instead.
I love reading about young women today who are taking back themselves – becoming wild women – strong and fierce and full of life. I love that they are working in the first half of their lives to be brave. They are relatively young though, and I can’t help but wonder about the sustainability of that kind of energy. It’s possible, of course. My friend was just telling me about a woman she knows who is climbing mountains at 70, but I think this is the exception. (I hope I’m wrong.)
Is “slowing down” just natural?
There are so many conversations to have about this, but I think it boils down to finding a compromise between acceptance and making a decision to try a little harder to feel a little better. I don’t think there is anything wrong with my preference to avoid crowds and noise. I’m pretty much of an introvert anyway, but I would like the choice to come from a place of thought rather than exhaustion.
To be clear, I’m not talking about giving up and just laying down to wait for death to find me. I’m talking about the gradual shifting of energy and perception and life-style. Is it OK to slow down? Is it OK to tone down? If not, why not? If not, who says?
What are your thoughts?