The Slippery Slope to Senior Sloth

Henri Matisse

Watching six straight hours of Project Runway reruns? Lounging in bed reading a mystery until two in the afternoon? Why the hell not? Now, in the dawn of my eighth decade of life, haven’t I earned the right to kick back and be as lazy as I like? Maybe, but if so, why do I feel so guilty about it?

Yes, ashamed as I am to admit it, I’ve indulged in these wretched excesses in the past few days. Even worse, I still haven’t kicked my Spider solitaire addiction. And today I managed to get to my Nia class at the YMCA, but I copped out of doing the weight machines. After Nia, I generally take a snack break in the Y’s lobby perusing magazines others have donated that I normally wouldn’t buy, like Vogue and Entertainment Weekly, before heading for the weight circuit, but today I simply stashed the magazines back in their rack and split for home.

The Y used to have a  computerized Fit Linx system that tracked exactly how much weight I lifted during each session as well as my cumulative total, which added up to several million pounds over the past few years. But they took away the Fit Linx. Now it’s as if Big Brother has abandoned me, and there’s nothing and no one to track whether I do the machines or not. So why bother?

In part, I’d persisted with the weight machines to condition my body for skiing, but I’ve become a slacker in that department too. Back in December, when cold winds began sweeping down from the north, I thought how much more frozen I’d feel skidding down a windswept mountain and decided that maybe it was time to give up skiing, at least the downhill variety. For now, this weirdly warm and snowless winter has made that a moot point, but even if Lady Gaia favors us with tons of white powder, I suspect I’ll stay cozily hunkered down in my recliner rather than hitting the slopes.

I could regale you with other fascinating details of my descent into senior sloth – the crossword puzzles and movie matinees, for example, not to mention my favorite soap opera. Since One Life to Live was cancelled last month, I’ve gone cold turkey on that one, but Michael Easton, my favorite soap star, will be bringing his Detective John McBain character to General Hospital next month, so alas, I’ll probably relapse.

One problem with writing about all these mundane details of daily life is that they’re boring. But even worse, they’re sins of omission rather than commission, of passivity rather than active engagement in life. According to the experts, staying mentally and physically active while aging probably lengthens longevity, but by how much? And in the long run, does it really matter?

Henri Matisse 1923

When I engage in these “What’s it all about?” ruminations, my husband frequently reminds me that the universe doesn’t give one whit what we do with our lives. So should we follow Joseph Campbell’s advice and just follow our bliss? And can bliss lie lurking within such ordinary slothful pleasures? For me, probably not in the long run. My most blissful moments come from creativity.

But for others, who’s to say? And who am I to pass judgment?

Should I be ashamed of my tendencies toward senior sloth, or is it OK to silence my inner critic and indulge in periods of vegging out? Any thoughts on the subject? I’d love to hear from you.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. M. E. Kemp
    Feb 12, 2012 @ 17:46:58

    Good to see you back, Julie, or is it me who’s back after computer problems and trying to cope with library computers?? It’s o.k. to veg out for a short while but I hope you get back to writing, Julie. You’re too good to let that go. Maybe it’s my Puritan conscience but I am constitutionally incapable of doing what you did — vegging out. I don’t count reading a book as vegging — that’s part of a writer’s job. I have a source of inspiration, though. I’ve got my half-naked jockey calender up now (authographed, by the way,) and one of the cutest of them I’ve made the victim in my new, new book. (My NEW book, #5, will be out in the Fall.) This is #6. Marilyn aka: M. E. Kemp

    Reply

  2. Louisa
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 09:43:16

    I think as long as you are writing in this blog, you are still writing, and that’s good! I have had a slothful week, too, writing-wise and am feeling blocked. I’m taking a break, going to try to make a dress (will probably take me a year!), anything to take my mind off my novel. Sometimes we need a change of pace, just make sure it is you who’s in charge and not the “sloth” bug! Best of luck, and please keep writing!

    Reply

  3. Louisa
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 09:43:53

    P.S. I love the paintings you posted here!

    Reply

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