Live long enough, and, more and more, what you want doesn’t matter. What you want is irrelevant. You are irrelevant. This is natural, but is a big change, and much of the heartache as we age comes from fighting this simple fact of life. Look around at all of the things and activities you have enjoyed today. You won’t have them to enjoy much longer.
This is the penalty for living long. Better you should accept the consequences and move on with the good parts that remain and memories of those that do not.
The change comes slowly, for most of us starting sometime in our 50s or 60s. Your spouse dies or your children move across the country or you develop health problems. You certainly don’t want any of this, but that doesn’t matter.
Health and death are the big ones. You can mope around and feel sorry for yourself, or you can accept the change and soldier on, mining enjoyment from what little you have left. The old conditions are over.
Even when the change is abrupt, some parts have not changed, and you may not even notice what is happening. For example, your spouse dies, but your children still live nearby and visit you often. Then, they move away, but you still have your home and daily routine—until someone else decides you should live in a place where you depend on strangers doing their job, for everything.
Often, this last step happens when you can no longer drive. In today’s society, everyone needs to drive. No taxi service, no Uber service, no helpful neighbor can make up the difference. Of course, you would prefer to drive yourself, but that doesn’t matter anymore. You have no license, no insurance, no car.
You go to a restaurant and are restricted to the vegetable platter, not the red meat and ice cream that you want. Too bad. You met someone who is a far better companion than your spouse and you want to change to get at least a taste of how life could have been. Too bad. You are committed. Accept it. Too bad, too bad. You feel you deserve a little time for yourself after all these years. Who cares? Wish all you want. Nothing will come of wishing.
No matter your situation today, no matter what you can afford, there’s a lot more to come of what-you-want-doesn’t-matter. So accept it. It may turn out better than you think.
I have known many people, even my own father, who were far more content, far happier, when they gave up their desires and just went along with the flow. I’m breathing, I don’t hurt, and the sun is out. It could be worse.
Even now, that’s what I do in a doctor’s office. Go here, go there, take that off, put that on, sit here, lie there, drink this, spit there, sign here, this won’t hurt, this will. Whatever you say, Doc (or Nurse Practitioner, or Physician’s Assistant, or File Clerk, or Financial Consultant). Whatever. What I want doesn’t matter.
(Did I say, “Doctor’s office?” Doctor’s don’t have offices, anymore, at least where I see them. I sit alone, undressed, and shivering in a tiny examination room and obey the commands of whoever pops through the door. It could be the janitor. It could be a lost street person who somehow wandered in unnoticed. If they tell me to empty the contents of my wallet into their open hand, I will do it, without question.)