I am 62 today.  According to AARP, who have been sending me regular reminders for a week now, I am hereby official. Dislike it though I may, (and trust me, I DO!), my new demographic designation is S-E-N-I-O-R.  Well, F-U-C-K! But expletives change nothing. I am—‘cause I did. I got old.

We all did . . . we of the forever young, “don’t trust anyone over 30,” flower power, sexual revolution, Baby Boomer generation. Sure, we can paddle the River Denial, deal ourselves a hand out of the semantics deck or even hang some cute curtains with cleverly contrived taglines in our rose-colored windows . . .  fab at 50 . . .  sexy at 60 . . . sensational at 70 . . . But who in hell are we kidding?  At the end of the day, when we wipe off the lips and eyebrows we don’t have (if we don’t draw them on and color them in), take off the bras that keep our boobs north of due south and unspanx our mushy middles and saggy asses  . . . Yeah, there’s a reason they call it the glaring truth (as in “highly obvious, unmistakable and inescapable”). BTW, “truth,” ladies, is a silent witness. NOT. Her mute reflection might stare back at you in the mirror speechless—but trust me. She’s speaking volumes.

Jane Fonda does a scene in the Netflix show Grace and Frankie that is simply brilliant. When the man she’s been seeing professes his acceptance of their age gap and claims to love her regardless, she tells him he doesn’t know what he’s getting. And then proceeds to show him, pulling off eyelashes, wiping away make-up, yanking out hair extensions. “Think you can handle this?” she taunts with each level of artifice removed. “And this? And this?” Once bare-faced and vulnerable, she displays her knee brace and introduces him to her new friend, Mr. Cane. “This is what you’re getting,” she proclaims in a tour de force performance as she stands there stripped of the delusions of youth. (Jane, I was never a fan. Hated your whole Hanoi spectacle. But I got to tell you . . . Girl! You earned my respect for your talent with this one!) FYI, you can find the clip on YouTube. Google Grace and Frankie The Real Me. Now of course, because this is a freakin’ TV show—and NOT real life, the guy doesn’t blink an eye. He stares at her intently and then softly says, “I’ll take it.” Yeah, like I said . . . it’s TV. . .

But back to turning 62 . . . In the 1987 movie, Lethal Weapon, Danny Glover’s character, Roger Murtaugh, has a memorable line: “I’m too old for this shit!” Me, too. Specifically, at 62, I am too old for

  • zits (Seriously!?! Is there a greater insult to injury than to have a pimple pop up next to a wrinkle or age spot??)
  • bullshit and games (I honor my word. I expect the same.)
  • paying my dues (There’re fucking paid! In fact, I figure I’m owed a refund.)
  • wasting my time
  • a broken heart
  • failing to learn from my mistakes

Care to guess which 4 of the above are connected? I’ll give you a clue: S-U-N-D-A-Y.

But first a slight side track (Bear with me. . . I promise I’ll tie it all together.)  There is a famous lecture by a philosophy professor wherein he fills a mayonnaise jar with large rocks. “Is it full?” he asks his class.  “Yes,” they answer in unison confidence. Prof can’t fit another rock in and still close the lid. But then the professor sprinkles handfuls of pebbles into the jar. They slide into the cracks between the rocks and fill the voids. “Now is it full?” he asks. His students laugh, realizing the point he has made. However, their teacher is not finished. He takes a cup of sand and proceeds to pour it into the jar. “Now it is full,” he proclaims when the top is reached. He goes on to explain that the jar signifies life. How each of us fills our own (life—not jar) is incumbent upon choices. The rocks represent the most important things in life—family and health, for example. These are the crucial priorities essential to well-being. The pebbles are the things that may matter to us—job, house, friendships. But these things can be lived without. While they may give life meaning, they come and go. They are not permanent. Nor are they essential. The sand is the filler. The things like material possessions or leisure activities. In the long run, they don’t mean much and are actually rather unimportant—wastes of time often, in fact. The value they add to life is fleeting at best. But yeah, they are fun. The professor’s point is if you start out with sand, you leave no room for rocks or pebbles. In other words (and why time management “experts” frequently cite this lecture), if you spend your time and energies and money on small insignificant and fleeting things, there will be none left for the things that are actually important. In a nutshell, the “rocks, pebbles, sand” lecture is a metaphoric lesson on living life fully, with meaning and purpose.

The above metaphor works for love as well. (Btw, I am also borrowing from an article I recently read about the 7 types of love.) As per some “experts” on the matter, “love” has 3 components: commitment, intimacy and passion.  Combining any of these together creates a particular kind of the aforementioned 7 types of love. The article provided specific names for each, with the rarest being the combination of all 3.  Most of us, however, are acquainted with the common combos:  i.e. commitment and intimacy (but no passion) or passion and intimacy (without commitment). FYI, those would be my experiences per my marriage and my recent involvement.  The problem with this theory is that there are no quantifiers offered as to of how much of each component there exists. I mean, is there equal parts of each? Or does it matter, so long as something of each one exists? Inquiring minds (mine) want to know. Therefore, I have come up with my own hybrid metaphor of the professor’s mayonnaise jar of life lecture . . .

“Love” is a whole (think jar) comprised of pieces and parts and elements (rocks, pebbles and sand). While you do need to include at least one of all three, the proportions are up to the individual. (What works for you, works for you.) Alas, rocks require the most space (time, effort, energy, commitment). Pebbles being smaller allow for their existence in far greater numbers. Fittingly (no pun intended), the jar allows for lots of them—ergo without a lot of these “pebbles” (being intimacy, familiarity, comfort, etc.), you won’t fill the jar. But without the true “filler” of sand (sex, passion) which fills the tiniest of voids, the jar is not truly “full.” Nor the love complete.

Here is the problem many of us have. Yours truly included! We know we need all three, but we screw up the mix. (Yeah, free will is a bitch!) Often the people and priorities we spend the most time, energy, effort (and money) on aren’t really rocks. They are pebbles masquerading as rocks. Or they are rocks that don’t deserve to be. Worse, though, is when we willingly and too quickly fill our jars with too much sand—only to later realize we have left no room to accommodate in needed quantities the other elements. Oh yeah, guilty as charged—which is the perfect segue to Sunday . . .

As I have previously written, we met on the night of my 60th birthday. At the time I was looking for fireworks. And damn! Did he deliver. But fireworks burn. And they did. I fell in love with him. More accurately, I fell in love with his perceived potential—rather than the person he actually is. Ahhhh . . . live and learn. And I did. There were moments when it was perfection—the conversations and experiences we had, the friendship and intimacies we shared that all served to form a trust neither of us had known with another.  But just as pebbles and sand don’t fill the jar per the rules, moments are not enough to build a relationship. Certainly, Sunday started out as sand. Fireworks and fun. Circumstances and time and mutual desire created lots of pebbles. Indeed, he was most capable of  and even willing to offer pebbles—for a time. But I made the mistake of believing he could be a rock. The truth is, he neither wanted—nor deserved—to be. He isn’t rock material—at least not for my jar. Maybe someday for another woman’s jar, he will be. But for me he is not. No matter how much I wished it to happen and believed in “meant to be,” it wasn’t. As “perfect” as we could be together, if we were apart, I was an afterthought. That doesn’t make for a rock, ladies. It just doesn’t. I don’t care how independent and strong you think you are. (Voice of experience, talking now.)

Given the outcome, it would be tempting to say it was a grievous error in judgment to have started an involvement with him. (It wasn’t—read on.) It would, however, be a mistake to continue it. So today on my birthday—on the official 2-year anniversary of this involvement’s inception—I am declaring its end. Yeah, it hurts. But I was told today pain and these dings to the heart are what make one stronger—ala the process which forges steel with fire and hammer. We’ll see. As of now, I’m not a believer. Still, I don’t regret having tried because I lived—and learned! He inspired countless posts and enriched my life with both experiences and emotions. He showed me I could love unconditionally and selflessly. I learned what it felt like to feel appreciated, cherished, desired. Hell! Even the experience of having my heart broken (And God! Do I hate that expression!) was one I had heretofore never known.  Moreover, I would like to believe in these past 2 years I enriched his life as well. At the very least, I fucking saved it—and his job. Twice. And he saw Europe. Twice. Before me he didn’t even have a passport . . . so yeah, I claim “enrichment!”

Ultimately the truth is this:  Sunday is not only happiest as sand, he is sand.  At 60, it worked for me. But I have since lived and learned and loved. And gained a bit of  the wisdom they promise comes with calendar years.  I may always love him. But at 62, I want—and deserve—a rock.

2 thoughts on “Rocks, Pebbles and Sand

  1. This rings true for me. I terminated a 2 year relationship with my ’emotionally unavailable’ man, friend.. 3 weeks ago. I tried to end it many times, but thought I loved the man, but particularly the sex. This is my pattern. I was hooked on trying to repair his heart or trust in women so that he might be able to love me in return. It’s a fairytale Beauty and the Beast belief some of us have. Honestly, I never could make anyone..(even my own parents) love me the way that I wanted or needed. I was trained from an early age to go back for any crumbs of affection from those unable to give it. At 61, I get that there is too much pain in settling and feel your pain. I am approaching 62 in November and it scares me to think that there is no one for me. So, I have to learn to love myself enough to attract higher quality relationships or be ok alone.
    When we fill our lives with pebbles and mostly sand, there’s no room for rocks. I see that this has kept me safe and it’s actually me who has kept myself at an emotionally safe distance..and attracted men who are guarded as well.


    1. Thank you so much, Donna! There is no higher praise for a writer than to be told “this rings true.” I hesitate sometimes to write raw emotion, figuring “Who cares? It’s my issue.” I am most grateful for your words, to know you understand and relate. Again, thank you!!


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