THE INEVITABLE MOOD STABILIZER

The back of my hand…to give you ‘the back of my hand’ is a phrase of disrespect…on the other hand to ‘know someone or something ‘like the back of one’s hand’ is to have great and personal knowledge.

I have good news and bad news about mood stabilizers in pill form—medications often prescribed for individuals dealing with depression, bipolar disorder or traumatic life situations.

The good news is that we all will, sooner or later, have access to a state that, for some of us, is the greatest mood stabilizer in the world. It’s a state labeled variously as ageing, old age, elderly—in which we become seniors, elders, crones, grumpy old men and women, geriatrics, old fogeys… So I suppose we could say the inevitability of this stage of life might also be considered the bad news.

To be honest, for me, this state of being is somewhat discombobulating but not exactly bad. In fact I often talk about the several things I enjoy, even prefer, about being in this advanced-age category. Wisdom, patience, no longer giving a damn what people think, being able to retire after my student loans are paid off (sounds like a joke…is not a joke), the joy of observing…

My confusion lies in the fact that I miss the highs and even the lows of the past. The intense joys and concerns of motherhood; the thrill of a new love affair and the anguish of its demise; the exciting prospects of a new position and the big let-down when it turns out to be just another ordinary job. Remember all that?

 Wonderful things still happen in my life, some of them more exciting and rewarding than I could have imagined back in the day. But I never want to scream and giggle and skip around the block. I’m more aware of man’s inhumanity to man and yet I do not want to throw myself under a speeding bus or drink to oblivion. Every emotion has come to reside near the center line.

And, you know, it’s okay. I don’t always favor the middle ground—I want universal health care and I think religious people of all kinds and places are thought-free twits (mostly) and I always want to march (and rarely do) and I want to man the barricades (but I haven’t done that either) and…

But a middling view of life, middling emotions, middling abilities…not so bad…ah yes, but then again I do remember that moment in ‘72 with a new love…that first peer-down at the Sahara…that first reception with Black Sea caviar within view of the Eiffel Tower…that moment when I dipped a stick in flowing lava…that first glimpse of Scott and Steve and Teresa, the newborns…that first challenge by David Rusk to fix Albuquerque’s art/downtown life…that…well I could go on…

So the highs of those firsts have been transferred into pride in a most delightful and astounding family of siblings, kids and grandkids. And new travel adventures—what can easily compete with a bay of icebergs?—and once getting all the way up to a two-minute plank…you had to be there.

It’s all okay, especially with a nice wine…which I’ve just had. So get crazy and revel in this middling place!

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