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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Grumpiness and Irritability

Recently I had a surprising existential moment and I am more than just a little embarrassed.

Call it anger, rage, fury or irritability but it came quickly and took over my entire body. Every organ and every cell of my body infected. I'm embarrassed because it is the exact opposite of how I was taught growing up and in the work-life. I was encouraged to be calm, patient and serene.

I'm told that irritability and fury in old age is quite a regular thing and as old as well, human nature. We sort of expect this from the old, don't we? The stereotype is one of "Grumpy" from the Seven Dwarfs. Why do we expect bad-temper from older people? Perhaps a more important question is why do we make fun of it as if that was the whole emotional picture of some older people?

What is also revealing is that this recent experience with anger also left me invigorated, excited and connected to the world in ways I had not experienced since I was in college. I felt like I was raging about something socially important and yet perplexed by the inherent contradiction of trying to be patient and feeling impatient. After all, elders should be patient and serene! Right? What is going on with me? Am I not good enough to become an elder?

And yet, from an intentional aging perspective, the feeling was an honest one and from the heart, so to speak! I don't know if this new found irritability is because I am feeling impatient with still being on the planet or because I have more work to do and don't want to leave just yet. Or some deeper reason. I hope it isn't the first one.

I'm sure I'm not alone in this. I'm going to try out being both impatient and patient as two contradictory sides of my character and see how that shapes my life. Maybe I will also find the other Seven Dwarfs inside, as well!


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