Downsizing. The catchword for aging, right? Our physical reality, our challenge, our freedom.
But Mary Catherine Bateson, in Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom, offers an intriguing image of upsizing for this stage. (Thanks to MaryAnn Halteman Conrad for alerting me to Bateson’s work.) Imagine, she says, that you have the resources to add a room, or enlarge one, in your house. What room will you choose? And how will it affect how you live in the house?
Adding a room, Bateson says, is what longevity is like.
In Canada, average life expectancy increased 24.6 years between 1921 (57.1) and 2011 (81.7). That’s a big room added to the human house in 90 years, which has significantly altered the shape and flow of how we live.
I snagged on the gift-of-an-extra-room idea as a fun way to think about my current priorities or desires. Which room? How will it look? How affect the rest? I see a friend with a photography room. Another has added a room to re-settle refugees. (I speak metaphorically.) I’ll gladly keep my kitchen small at this point but since I’m doing some memoir-type writing I visualize an archives/library room where I can watch memory filmstrips, spread papers and documents, organize, spot patterns and narrative. Archives need a cool, darkish environment, but my imaginary room will definitely have to have a garden door to the outside world and lives of younger people. I’ll need to keep present realities in my eye and not get clouded by ancient dust.
AND YOU? WHAT’S YOUR EXTRA OR DREAM ROOM LIKE?