There was a television show a few years back called the New Adventures of Old Christine starring Julia Louis Dreyfus. I didn’t watch the show but I get the premise. I haven’t been replaced by a younger model but I am out there having new adventures and getting older everyday. More and more older Americans are out there looking for their second act. Actually, I burned through my first and second acts early and I’m into more of my third act, sort of a permanent semi-retired state. I use the traditional marketing skills I honed over a lifetime to help small businesses with their new-fangled marketing needs. I don’t feel any need to retire from this. Anyway, like new Christine I’m doing things again that I had to leave behind when I was younger. I may be doing them a little differently but there is joy in the doing. I’m discovering new things that I wish I had experienced from when I was younger. That’s one of the great things about life. Stick around. If you don’t like your life right now there may be something new just around the corner – that you’ll love, that may give you joy, purpose, accomplishment, confidence.
At the beginning of 2018 I felt like a lethargic blob, not bouncing back from my knee replacement surgery. I went on a trip to visit my daughter in Tennessee. We explored Gatlinburg and the remains of an abandoned amusement park. I loved it. Discovering the rides and attractions, following the ghostly chair ride ascend into the Smokey Mountains, uncovering artifacts, I felt like Indiana Jones, albeit a much sweatier Indiana Jones. (I don’t have a fedora, but I do have an awesome Tilley hat!).
On our way back to my daughter’s place we drove through Oak Ridge and I recalled that it was once called the Secret City and was part of the Manhattan Project during World War II. We stopped to explore a little there. We had to be photographed and show id just to enter the little museum! The entire town surrounding the laboratory was once completely gated. Every employee on the project had to live in this city and keep what they did for a living secret. Now it is an open town and only the lab complex is secure and secret. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside but we did drive around a little through the town and saw some of the old gateposts and reminders to keep silent.
Now I am hooked on it. When I was a kid I remember several abandoned properties in our town. Adults created scary stories that were built up to keep kids out and of course, every kid at some point wanted to prove they weren’t afraid to go inside. So, I’m sure I have loved these kinds of explorations my whole life. When I first moved with my children to Massachusetts from New York I found out there was a cave nearby the ocean that had been used by pirates back in the day. It wasn’t just a story, so you know I had to see it. I was able to actually go inside and investigate this raw, unspoiled historic location (a story I will tell on its own). Don’t get too excited for me. I climbed down into a chamber that was wet, slimy, and dark. All you could do was walk a little further from the entrance…into the dark, and see… more dark. Of course, I feel this “Wow” inside my head while others would just think “Eewww”. That’s me.
My feelings of blobbiness were rewarded with a health diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome (that’s basically where everything that can go wrong with your weight does). I went into a kind of mourning for my health. It was the swift kick in the ass I must have needed because that’s when I took the leap and dumped sugar out of my diet and began dropping weight. Taking up wholesome, healthy new interests was a big part of 2018 for me. One discovery was hammock camping. I had backpacked with a friend in Upstate New York when I was young. I never solo backpacked until this year. It was an awesome adventure. I purchased a camping hammock thinking it would be a good alternative to carrying a tent with me. It is the most satisfying self-discovery I have made in many years. I have a lot more to say about “hammocking” but suffice to say for now that it may very well be the cure for all things evil in the world. Everyone should know what it feels like to fall back into a hammock. It is my absolute obsession right now.
Most people will think I am batsh!t crazy but I am enthralled by the campervan lifestyle. Suzanne and I “discovered” Youtube as a television alternative this year. I started watching videos about people who have eschewed the traditional stationary home in favor of fulltime on-the-road travel. Work and leisure blend together seamlessly. These people have a freedom few others experience. They are well-practiced at minimalism, energy conservation, recycling (and my personal favorite, upcycling). They are very conscious of their individual carbon footprint. They live for experiences, not things. I am in love with that concept. Am I ever going to hop on the open road and “see the world” that way? No, not likely, but it makes a nice fantasy. If I was younger maybe. I can experience it a week at a time. I think they call that “camping”.
More new adventures of old me to come.