Better With Age
When I’m done my first couple assignments in the morning, I like to take a walk if the weather’s nice. Yesterday, it was warm and sunny with enough breeze to keep the mosquitos away.
As I walked, I breathed in the thick, sweet aroma of wolf willow and of the sugary pollen created by grasses and flowers to attract winged creatures…
It wasn’t that many years ago that the scent of pollen would have sent me running for the house and a big bottle of antihistamines. I remember being a kid, lying in a darkened room with a cold facecloth covering my swollen eyes and my red nose. I just stayed there, like that, waiting for June and July to pass, praying for the pollen to end.
I’m exaggerating but only a little. My seasonal allergies were nearly debilitating for years. There were summers when I didn’t want to leave the cool basement. Medication helped ease the symptoms, but the tablets left me feeling foggy and groggy, like I was wrapped in cotton batten.
A couple decades later, the medication improved. I stopped taking antihistamines and instead was prescribed a cortisone nasal spray to use along with stinging drops that constricted the blood vessels in my eyes. In combination, these two were so effective at relieving my teary eyes and runny nose that I could forget that I suffered from hay fever at all.
It’s because of this feeling of freedom that I think I just sort of stopped using any allergy medication. It was about four or five years ago during a walk in the countryside like yesterday’s that I realized grass pollen barely bothers me now. I hadn’t taken any medication and I was uncongested and happy. I mean, pollen can still irritate if I stand in a field of brome grass and brush my face up against the pollen-heavy plumes. But this happens rarely.
This improvement in my life over the course of time reminded me of other positive changes. For example, I used to care a lot more about the opinions of others. I have no prescription to relieve me of this, and yet the symptoms of caring about that which I cannot control have really eased up.
People still have opinions, of course. We’re all allowed to. Now I just don’t care what they are. I also spend much less time and energy expressing mine. People either agree with my opinion (nothing changes), they don’t care (nothing changes), or they are annoyed (I get punched in the nose).
I also care less about working. Yes, I still work hard, but that used to be reason enough in and of itself. These days, there had better be a good reason for blood, sweat and tears. I’d better enjoy the work and/or it had better lead to something that I’ll enjoy soon. In short, I care more about enjoying my life than about work for work’s sake.
I don’t give a hoot about success, whatever that is. I used to think I knew, but I’ve lost sight of it. Gone is the drive to accomplish yet another goal. I’ve already accomplished a lot. The thing about the goals I’ve set is that as soon as I reached one, there was a new one waiting right at the finish line. How irritating.
New goals popped up like dandelions, making me feel like I hadn’t done enough, like I was never enough. Around and around it went until this little hamster decided to step off the wheel.
Now when I’m done my first bit of school work for the day, I take a walk in the sunshine and the pollen. My eyes are clear and my nose is dry. If it rains, I head downstairs to the treadmill. No goals hound me and no one’s opinions (usually) bother me.
It’s nice to be mostly free from seasonal allergies and from a bunch of other stuff, too. It’s nice to see that some things get better with age.