Julie’s reflection in a pool at Kwetsani Camp, Botswana.
Photo by Julie Seyler
BY JULIE SEYLER
Middle age began for me in April 2012, when I was 56½ years old. Before that, I felt, and perceived myself as young – not 20-year-old young, but 45-year-old young. It shocked me to actually feel old for the first time in my life. I talked about feeling old when I turned 30 and 40, but this experience was visceral – a connection from the chronological age to a deep-rooted awareness in my heart. I never thought that was going to happen to me. I exercise. I eat right. I have a balanced life, filled with moderation. I follow Dr Oz’s advice. Wasn’t this supposed to shield me from getting old and feeling old?
I became depressed, confused, anxious, and scared. I drew, because color and free-form lines are great for expressing angst. Perhaps it all sounds silly, but it was tumultuous and inverting – always leading back to the same questions:
Who am I now? Where am I going? What’s next? So how are the good times defined in the future? Will there be fun? I mean, really, laughter is a basic for survival.
The Identity War. By Julie Seyler
Perhaps that sounds petty, trivial, and a non-starter, especially in light of the devastation and havoc wrought by Hurricane Sandy. How can I be worrying about “fun?” And the fact is, since I wrote this passage about six months ago, when that first kick in the pants bumped me out of the complacent security and familiar routine of the left side of 50, it feels as if things will never be the same.
On November 6, a week after Sandy blasted the shorelines of New York and New Jersey wiping out beaches, cabanas, and businesses, someone near and dear to me, who just turned 60 was given a horribly sad diagnosis, and I was implanted with a prosthetic hip.
So will the good times return? No doubt yes, but more importantly, will I remember to treasure the connections, friendships, passions, and simple joys that have accumulated in my life since way before I hit the right side of 50?