Monday, February 7, 2011

Angst and Reinvention at 58

By Christine Clark

   Angst at age 58? Yes, indeed. I turned 58 on September 12 and almost daily, I ask myself, “Where do I go from here”? At this age, I should be settled into a comfortable lifestyle, but in many ways, I am not. Life happened—in many places and in many ways throughout the years. In only two years I will be 60, the time society says I am “supposed” to start winding down and reaping the benefits of decades of work. I have reaped some of those benefits and I have assets—tangible and intellectual—but with senior years approaching (some might say they have already arrived), I find myself in a scary place. I am not ready for retirement.
   My freelance editorial career has diminished, yet my financial responsibilities have increased. Textbook publishers now hire less-expensive Indians and Asians who excel at English for the jobs that once overflowed my e-mail inbox. My recent move to Florida was well planned except for career considerations. Much of the work I do has moved overseas. Vero Beach is far from Groton, Massachusetts, but I did not need to cross an ocean to get here. Vero has few opportunities in publishing and worse, with the advent of electronic job applications, my resumes are filtered to the trash because I have decades of experience, but no BA. I need the piece of paper that says I know how to do what I know how to do.
   I returned to college eighteen months ago and got my AA in English post-haste. August through December of 2010, I attended FAU, so I will get that BA. I am not taking classes this winter so I can travel to Massachusetts and ready my house there for leasing or selling.
   The world is changing and I, too, am changing. I am reinventing myself as a mother (my youngest child will be 18 in a few weeks), a grandmother, a single woman, a Christian, a friend, a property owner, a freelance editor, a writer, and a person. As I reinvent, I will explore and share several sides of who I am now and who I want to become and why. The facets of my life I will explore and share are creative, insightful, spiritual, economic, relational, intellectual, and, if I am brave enough, maybe even political.
Stasis would be boring. I often consider myself ordinary, but not boring. I look forward to my new journey, which I expect will carry me through the balance of my life. The horizon sometimes appears scary, and my boat tumbles and rocks as I brave the waves. I imagine there will be calm seas as well as rough. I invite my family and friends to join me, support me, inspire me, encourage me, and even chastise me (when appropriate) as I step toward the shore and begin my travels.

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