“Why should I bother to learn Italian?” asked a confident businesswoman and mother of two teens who learned to speak French fluently in her twenties. “As much as I would enjoy it, chances are slim to none that I’ll ever use it,” she explained. She added that it was one of the things she hated about getting older, that there is no point in doing things like learning a new language since everything in her life is already “set.” My friend H. and I were horrified at that depressing thought. Would we feel the same as this woman did in a few years?
I certainly hope not because learning something new is one of the greatest pleasures in life. As one of the youngest (if not the youngest) contributors to Tootzypop, I sometimes feel like a wide-eyed innocent among women who’ve “been there, done that.” But I have a strong feeling that my joie de vivre is here to stay, and I plan to do everything I can to hang onto it. There’s the potential for surprise daily and so many things to learn and do, from finally finishing Proust’s Remembrance of Lost Time to visiting the pyramids in Egypt (which I imagine myself doing late in life like an elderly Agatha Christie heroine excavating King Tut’s tomb). My to-do list is getting longer by the day, rather than shorter.
While children and home ownership can feel like a door slammed on spontaneity, the children will eventually leave the nest. And you can always swap your house for one in Italy for the summer. Whether we like it or not, an uncertain future is one of the few things of which we can be sure.
Get inspired to do something new by reading Afar magazine, checking out a language app, or watching a film by Werner Herzog (his enthusiasm for life is contagious). Make a to do list to keep track of your plans so you’ll have the satisfaction of checking them off as they’re completed.
Tags: education, forty, forty-plus, learning, middle aged women, over forty, women, women over 40, women over 50, women over forty