Sunday, September 30, 2012

Life in the Latter Years

I’m late to the blogging world, as I’ve been late to many things in life, but part of my reason for the delay can be blamed on my inability to name my blog. I thought of Late Bloomer, but apparently the world is full of late bloomers and many already named their blogs as such. They may have been late, but they beat me.  Same with my second choice for a title that highlighted an empty nester’s quest for purpose –  Life: Part Two. Already taken. Then I considered A Try Again Life since I’m returning to school in my later-than-middle-age years. But I nixed that idea because of the connotation that the earlier parts of my life somehow failed, requiring a second chance.

One day my blog name appeared when a friend shared a new word with me – opsimath. I love this word because it describes my stage of life so much better than simply being late to the game and trying again. You see, the word means “a person who begins, or continues, to study or learn late in life.” I may not know how to pronounce it or use it smoothly in a sentence, but I like the concept! And I’m always interested in learning – formally and informally, via books, other people, life experiences, on the job, etc.

For the formal part,  I’m making up for my early school years when I didn’t study much, being the dreamy student in middle and high school who stared out classrooms window, creating scenarios in my head that never had to do with algebra or American history. Unfortunately my chronic disinterest and inability to pay attention had long-term consequences as I missed so much of the information other curious people collected at an earlier age. I’m attempting to make up for lost time by returning yet again to school at the Rainier Writer's Workshop to pursue something from my bucket list in these latter years: a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing.  

I debated long and hard about returning one more time to school – especially at my age. After all, my grandfather was retired by the time he reached his mid-fifties, spending his days on the golf course and on his deck overlooking a Cape Cod bay where cocktails started in late afternoon. I have no desire to wind down in the same manner, so I surveyed friends for their opinion about my return to school. Surely someone would provide a good reason to talk me out of my pursuit by citing the impracticality, the expense, my age, and the uselessness of a writing degree. But to a person, everyone’s response was, “Why wouldn’t you do something you love? Go for it!”

Another encouragement came after a recent celebration of my company’s 50th anniversary. A coworker pointed out the founder’s wife was nearly 50 years old when her husband started our publishing house, meaning that much happened in her later years. Is it too much to hope that something interesting might take place in the latter half of our lives too, after the kids are grown, moving on to challenging pursuits of their own? Is there any reason to slow down and wait as life rolls to a close?
A few years back as I talked to my sons about my approaching stage of empty nest, I mentioned feeling that my most important job was finished and jokingly said I could just move on to the great beyond. One of my sons responded: “You’re not an insect, Mom. You don’t mate and die.” So I’d like to pursue adventure, and see what life holds when you’ve passed the half century mark. I choose to be an opsimath – someone who not only learns late in life, but also lives life fully right up until the end. I plan to blog about the experience with the hopes something curiously fun might happen along the way. And I’m on the lookout for others doing the same. So cue the music and let the new journey begin.


Anonymous said...

Linda! You should definitely read the book 'Teacher: The Henrietta Mears Story" by Marcus Brotherton! She keep on going and doing amazing things up until the very end of her last day! She inspired me and I hope that she does you as well. :) Great first blog my friend!

Linda MacKillop said...

Hi Ashley! I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the comment.