Sitting Still

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Photo via Unsplash.
Photo via Unsplash.

I've never been one for sitting still; for me, my rare moments of peace come through motion. I have a sporadic once-or-twice weekly yoga practice, which, when I tune into my body and concentrate, centers and relaxes me. But those brief tastes of relaxation, of comfort in my own skin, are fleeting like a bullet train racing by in the night.

Back in my 20s and 30s, I assumed that most older folks had their lives figured out, and knew a lot of things I didn't. I believed that with a few exceptions (including, at times, my parents), age brought wisdom and some degree of calm. But now that I've reached my golden years, the truism seems less true — at least in my case.

I live in a multi-generational household of 20 residents, ranging in age from 23 to 68; I'm the second-oldest, just a few years behind a woman pushing 70. Sometimes, when one of my younger housemates is stressing about an upcoming exam or internship or complaining that their first job out of college is not everything they dreamed it would be, I stop and think — this is just the beginning BW230921JUof life's losses, and welcome to the real world.

Those moments remind me that I wouldn't want to go back to 25 or even 35, though I wouldn't mind having the body and the prodigious energy I had then. Still, much of my energy got sucked up into worry and fear, of things that might have happened. I came by that fear honestly after I watched my father recover from a massive heart attack when he was just 44, and I was 14. My Dad died of a second heart attack when he was 61. For years afterward, I was certain his fate would be my own.

Ironically, now that I'm 66, with a leaky heart valve and borderline high blood pressure, I spend much less time worrying about a possible heart attack. After all, I have plenty of other things to worry about; I've had melanoma twice, and I know that if my heart doesn't poop out something else will. But I also know that whatever my fate or good fortune, I have less of that precious commodity — time — than I did back then, and I don't want to waste it.

So, deep into my seventh decade that's my conundrum: I have both too much time and too little.

Now I know that I am much closer to the end than the beginning of my life, have gone beyond any reasonable definition of middle age, and have reached "Junior-Senior" status. Yet sometimes I have too much unstructured time — hours I could be writing, biking, planning my next writing class — and spend them sitting around, watching Netflix, or pining for the boyfriend/husband/companion I never had.

It's a gray rainy day in Boston at the end of a sticky summer that, like all New England summers, went much too fast. As the days grow shorter and darkness comes earlier, I reflect on making the most of the time I have left, however long or short that may be.

Judah Leblang is a writer, teacher, and storyteller in Boston. Find out more at