This past weekend, while my mother was napping, I watched part of The Shawshank Redemption. Each time I see it I appreciate what a wonderful film it is. This time around, I was moved by the line, "Get busy living or get busy dying." I'm going to be 59 come December, and I've been thinking a lot about the last part of my life. Some people might say I'm being morbid; I think it's natural.
I have no spouse or partner, no children, and no siblings; just cousins, flung far and wide. On the weekends when I go to Philadelphia to take my 87-year-old mother out to the dollar store, out to lunch, out grocery shopping, I can't help but wonder--who's going to do this for me? I'm going to be on my own.
In dreaming about the house I want to build, I'm worried that it's too late; that I've waited too long to do it. I can't deny the good sense of aging in New York City--my doctors are here, there are good hospitals, it's walkable and has good public transporation, there's plenty to do. I can easily see myself as one of the white-haired women with canes or walkers making their way down the aisle at a New York Philharmonic concert or the Metropolitan Opera.
And yet. And yet. I look up at the paint-peeling ceiling of my studio apartment and think: I don't want to die here. I go to Central Park and long to nap in the sun but I don't feel safe enough to do so, and I think of how lovely it would be to have a chair on my own porch or in my own garden where I could doze off at will.
I want to grow my own vegetables and flowers. I want to have a separate bedroom. I wanat to have a kitchen with space to cook in. I want to be able to sleep at night without hearing my neighbor's television through the wall.
Today, on Facebook, I came across a quote of Lao Tzu: "A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live."
Clause Monet was 50 when he bought his house at Giverny. He was 76 when he built a studio there.
On Sunday night I spoke with a friend of mine. I was tired from my weekend travels and shared my doubts about building my "hobbit house." I suspect she was trying to be supportive, and perhaps reassuring herself about some of her own choices, when she agreed with me and said something like, 60 years old is probably not the t ime to do something revolutionary.
But there are those who might tell you that I am, in my own quiet way, very revolutionary.
And that I have, over the last couple of years, done some very revolutionary things.
So it may be that the older I get, the more revolutionary I will become.