The Third Third

No Longer Silent. Or Marginalized.

Happy New Year.

My resolution is to resume writing for The Third Third. As you may have noticed (or not), I have had trouble writing these last few years. I have found my words silenced by malaise and depression about, very literally, the state of the world — our politics, the environment, the danger, the injustice. And, let’s be clear, the apparent futility of trying to do anything about any of it as a woman well into her third third. Then there’s the sense that writing about and for women in the third third of our lives often seemed too self-absorbed, even precious, in these particularly challenging times.

I’ve noticed, too, that any queries I receive about The Third Third are purely transactional. Vendors seem to view this online journal as a mere marketplace for eldercare and advice, (not unlike PBS’s Next Avenue, the now-defunct More Magazine, and special senior sections and columns in newspapers) with superficial text and many ads about financial planning, downsizing your home, making your home a safe place to age, medical signs and symptoms, care taking options, funeral planning. They were, in other words, defining our demographic by the decline and limitations age-old ageism imposes, without regard for the energy, resources, experience, thoughts and feelings we can bring to bear on the whole of our society.

Why ghettoize messages — journalistic or advertising — to older people as if they’re no longer part of the whole? I reject the assumption that I care more about my Social Security benefits or Depends you can’t tell I’m wearing than I do about the funding of public schools, accessibility to health care, abortion rights, hate speech, global warming or gun violence. Part of the impetus for The Third Third was to keep our thoughts and feelings, our engagement with life writ large, from being marginalized by prejudicial views of aging. So here we go again.

And it’s a challenge. Even in my own absolutely beloved family, it seemed much easier over the holidays for my wonderfully caring grown children to ask about my foot which was encased in a boot three months after surgery (boring!) than to pursue other more interesting topics about the choices we all make every day, or our fears or doubts or hopes, even what we’re going to do in the next election cycle. Which made me think about the nature of our relationships with these grown children — Adult Child is such an oxymoron! — and what we need or want from the relationships, and yes, what they may need or want from them, too.

So that’s the next 2020 Third-Third topic. Please join the conversation.
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