Big birthday this week. Sheesh, eighty-eight. What’s it like when gravity and your butt are at war and a patch over your right eye is a pending fashion statement?
Have you ever owned an old car? Take care of it and it keeps on going, even as it gradually loses its luster and its get-up-and-go. Get lazy and forego the regular maintenance, however, and the timetable for the junk yard speeds up exponentially.
Not a particularly original analogy, but it fits.
So let’s assess. I take a lot of walks and a lot of Tylenol. I can get up from a chair without falling, climb stairs without tripping, and bend over without getting dizzy. Most of the time. For the occasional lapse when the gyroscope in my brain fails, precaution is in place with a handrail alongside the stairs and a safety bar on the tub.
Similar ‘still-can-do-but-not-like-I-used-to’ applies to catching a ball, sex, jogging, drinking Dewar’s with soda, dancing, partying in general, stowing luggage in the overhead, body surfing, pulling a wagon, riding a bike, running for the Metro train, eating spicy foods and you get the drift.
But ‘still-do-and-better-than-ever’ shares equal time! Being an elder has its own joys. All that is required is continued enthusiasm for life and engaging each and every day with gratitude: for being healthy; for a loving spouse and family; for simply being alive, conscious of the miracle!
I think of my Thursday posts as ‘dispatches from the front.’ In the battle against aging I’m a soldier on patrol, ahead of the troops, sending information to the army behind me as to what to expect as they advance against the enemy. Here are some of my communiques, reports of my combat with time as the candles on the cake became a strobe light!
Prepare for a fierce battle with recrimination about the past. It will take some discipline but when you finally leave behind the lingering feelings of shame and regret over mistakes made decades ago, you’ll feel so much lighter. You’ll come to recognize that Self-love is about accepting and forgiving, not being perfect. You’ll be free to be who you are, living life in the present moment (there is no other moment!)
The terrain ahead can be rocky without a moral compass. Integrity is an indispensable quality for creating trust and if you want love in your life, being trustworthy is elemental.
In the march against time, recognize the folly of trying to “fix” someone else’s life, even the ones you love dearly. Your life will become unmanageable if you think you have that power. You don’t, period. For your own sanity and sense of self-worth, recognize that how others behave is not a reflection on you. You’ll dance like a puppet on a string if you rely on applause from others to provide your validation.
Perhaps my most important message from navigating in advance the future you will face… learn to be less controlling and quash the ego to manageable size. Some unexpected pleasure awaits when you no longer rush to judgement about people or events. Let me add to that; believe you are worthy of being loved.
So here I am (apologizing for combining metaphors), a well-cared for 1932 Ford Sedan on the road to the unknown and the Point Man for the inevitable, first to face what awaits as we advance to frailty.
I’ll keep writing about my experiences. I won’t leave out the days when I’m fearful of change, with paranoid fantasies about danger ahead. But I’m optimistic my posts will describe how the adventures ahead enliven me, inspire me and give me the insight to model what a purposeful, meaningful elderhood can be.