Getting older: Learning to find pleasure in the smaller things

I woke up excited on Monday. They were here, finally ready. After ordering a set of living room furniture before Thanksgiving – a couch, and a loveseat/chaise connected to each other – we would finally be able to see them in our home sometime before 2 p.m.

My husband and I had been sitting on a crappy old couch since we got back from China three years ago. It came with legs but there didn’t appear to be a way to attach them, so tall people practically ate their knees when they sat down.

It was huge, lumpy and dark. I couldn’t wait to get rid of it.

As the delivery men – who were extremely professional and incredibly friendly – brought the couches into my house, I couldn’t stop smiling. I took photos on my phone and showed them to everyone at the office when I returned to work.

Later that evening, as I babbled on to my husband about how awesome our new couches were, he looked at me and said, “You are so old.”

He was right. It’s not like 10-year-olds tell their friends all about the furniture in their homes. I laughed at the joke, but he was just as excited as I was. The truth is, judging by his standards, we’re both old.

Gone are the days of scrounging in the cushions for enough money to buy a coffee on the way to class. Staying up all night has become a thing I talk about with my friends in a nostalgic manner. But it’s not the kind of nostalgia that hurts. It’s not like looking back at childhood friendships that faded away. It’s more like, looking back at something and being glad you at least had the experience, but would never, ever do again.

Maybe nostalgia is the wrong word. Maybe wisdom is what I’m looking for.

We don’t party all night anymore, preferring not to spend an entire day feeling sicker than a dog, all because of a night we can only kind of remember a little.

Our savings account actually has money in it now. We write checks and have credit cards with limits higher than $500. We buy furniture and get excited about it. We take pleasure in the small things in life.

Maybe that’s what getting older is.

It’s waking up in the morning – and by morning I mean long before the a.m. turns to p.m. – happy that you have a few hours to yourself before your day starts. It’s using phrases like “before my day starts.” It’s taking pleasure in sipping a cup of coffee on your deck, the birds chirping while you read the newspaper. It’s enjoying the look of your home – which will be paid off some day – after you’ve finished giving it a good cleaning.

It’s the smell of supper cooking in the oven, and hoping the new recipe you tried works out. It’s the pride you feel in getting the lines perfectly straight when you mow the lawn and in pulling the last weed from your otherwise immaculate garden.

Maybe getting older is getting calmer, is understanding what that fire in your belly is for. It’s knowing what you stand for and what you care about deeply.

That is the difference between your early 20s and your late 20s – feeling truly comfortable in your own skin and knowing that where you are in life right now is right where you should be.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Chocolay Township resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.