Jolie Kanat: Fully Cooked

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Jolie Kanat has arrived at that age where life is more answers than questions, and she’s pretty comfortable with that.

At age 30 or 50 I knew there was an eternity to choose life’s 'Door Number 3' in case the whirlwind behind 'Door Number 2' didn’t work out. I could always shift, be whoever I wanted.

It’s my 70th birthday year and today a little bird sat on my shoulder and whispered, “This is how you turned out. You’re formed. You’ve learned to accept conflict, to manage loss, how to help people, how to figure out your own relationships, the place and importance of work, what is fun to you, the rhythm of politics, the settling in to that extra 10 pounds. You’re fully cooked.”

At risk of sounding like the old Grandmother Willow Tree in Disney’s Pocahontas, I am choosing the cornucopia of confidence and calm that comes with experience. I have fewer insecurities or psychological meanderings about the meaning of life. The interesting thing I’ve learned is that contrary to popular culture, it’s not an endless “search.” It’s not just “the journey.” There is an arrival point, and that point expands.

Being 70 is earning the first life Oscar. It’s landing on the Mt. Everest of Knowing a Lot of Things, of feeling more firmly planted.

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During COVID I learned that when we’re deprived of anticipation, we become sort of withered, no matter what age we are. And once anticipation is rehabilitated, we become rejuvenated. Tossing my imaginary fishing line into the promising future and catching an adventure there, is still my definition of excitement.

But the adventure my fishing pole lands on is no longer an unknowable bog. Instead, it is whatever I do is the right thing for me.

This might be similar for all of us who are older, I don’t know. It isn’t that we’re not going to change or expand. It’s that we’re grown. We’re a painting with its colors in place. Anything more is bonus points.

And from my little perch, created over 70 years of doing the best I can while I was doing it, the view is not at all what I expected—but to me, it’s kind of amazing.

With a Perspective, I’m Jolie Kanat.

Jolie Kanat is executive director of a supported living services agency in Marin.