Okay. Time for a confession. Until recently I’ve been quite mature about aging. I’ve believed platitudes like, Why fight the inevitable? It’s just a number. Accept it with grace. It’s a phase everyone goes through…if they’re lucky enough to live that long. Stay active. You can still be a useful member of society. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…. Then, about halfway into my 70th year, the s**t hit the fan.
It began with some pain in a toe after a few weeks of vigorous walking on brick roads in wornout tennis shoes. The coup de gras was delivered on Thanksgiving Day when I squatted for about three minutes in front of a low kitchen cabinet looking for just the right serving dish. The next morning my toe was so painful I couldn’t walk without limping. Determined to tough it out, I didn’t consult a podiatrist until January. The black boot I had to wear until my stress fracture healed wasn’t pretty, but at least it brought me a lot of sympathy! Squatting, for heaven’s sake? Who knew squatting could be a health risk?
Then one day in February I woke up with the lids of my right eye stuck together. When I got them open I was appalled at the intense shade of pink staring at me from the mirror. Could I get an eye doctor to see me? Of course not! I’d just have to tough it out until next Monday. Fortunately, I had an appointment with my podiatrist that afternoon. After his eyes widened at the sight of mine, he asked his assistant to make me an appointment with the eye doctor down the hall. The good news is that I saw him 30 minutes later. The bad news is that the next day both eyes were stuck shut and as red as alligator eyes in the glow of a flashlight at night. Eat your heart out, Bob Costas! Speaking of… that was a weird coincidence, especially since I had made such a big deal about his case of pink eye at the Winter Olympics only a few days earlier. “Look at that, Fred! He’s got something wrong with his eye. Gross! What is that?”
The third indignity, this one even grosser than pink eye, cropped up soon afterwards. One day I developed an annoying itch in the center of my upper chest. Several mornings later I awoke scratching a wart! A wart? Seriously? I’d always secretly suspected that only people with character flaws got warts and now I was one of them! How could that be? Luckily, specially treated Band-Aids make them go away, but I have to tell you, hiding mine was a wardrobe challenge for the next three weeks!
So now I was hobbling around with a bum toe, alligator eyes, an unsightly growth and high-necked blouses! Next came a sinus infection. What was happening here? After a few weeks of moping around the house feeling as sorry for myself as a child, I finally had to admit the universe was sending me a humbling message: “Wake up, Princess. You’re not in Kansas any more! Aging is no tea party and you might as well get used to it!”
I’m trying. So here, thoroughly chastened by this latest wake-up call and determined to handle it like a grownup so I can get on with my life, I present my top Five Effects of Aging I’d Rather Not Acknowledge.
1. To my horror, health complaints are getting to be a common conversation topic.
2. When I don’t feel well I get cranky, petulant and depressed.
3. Your reflexes actually do get slower as you age, which explains why your driving does too. I’m thinking that if you see me behind the wheel 20 years from now (I’m determined to be optimistic about this) you better hope I’m headed the other way.
4. I don’t laugh at people who watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune in bed any more.
5. I’ve been sitting at my desk writing all day every day for so many years that sometimes just walking requires aspirin. I hope I haven’t done myself some permanent damage. At any rate, now I get the Tim Conway shuffle. (Check out the link for some good laughs.)
I still intend to live this phase of my life with grace, but after this winter I’m aspiring to more kindness and humor too.
Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Diesel Ebooks .
Ego and God-Image: Part VI
[T]he most important relationship of childhood, the relation to the mother, will be compensated by the mother archetype as soon as detachment from the childhood
I remember when I was young I would be have little patience for the (for example) older women, near where I worked, dressed in black, who would hobble and heave at the streetcar lineup *slowing me down.* In retrospect they had lived through a depression, a dictatorship, war, and god knows what heartbreaking and body breaking personal experiences. Today I marvel at the young flying across the fields. Yes, one’s sense of mercy ‘extends’ as one’s own fragility becomes evident.
It certainly does! It’s as if “life” deliberately created aging to be a built-in antidote to the callousness of youth. How else will we learn compassion for otherness if we never experience and come to terms with the otherness in and of ourselves? Thanks for this insight!
My wife and I like to say, “Getting Old is not for weanies.” 🙂
I love it: wisdom, reality and humor all in six words! Thanks for the smiles!
Looking forward to a HUGE increase in cranky and petulant posts!
I’m still chuckling! And feeling good to know you enjoyed this one. I’ll try to write more of these. Lightening up is so good for the soul.
Poor you! What a heavy dose of calamities. Like you, I’m usually sanguine about aging, but yesterday I had a dentist appointment, followed by a bus trip home. The bus was packed full of university students, chatting, laughing, oblivious, young people. I felt ancient by comparison. Silently, maliciously, I thought, “it will happen to you one day, too”.
Hahaha!! Yes, poor me, poor, poor ancient us!! I’m still laughing about your secret thought. I confess to thinking that occasionally myself! I suppose it comes with the territory. 🙂
When 70 arrives–all bets are off. I’ve always loved Rumi’s poem, “The Guest House” and the line, “every day a new arrival.” It seems to take on a whole new meaning now!
I love your line, “When 70 arrives, all bets are off.” I’ll be using it! Ditto the Rumi quote. Perfect! I’m still smiling. Thanks, Enid.
GOD PUT OFF HIS CLOAK ,DID THE EVENING AFTERWARDS CUT LOCKS OF HAIRS. THE EVENING HAS DISFIGURED MEMORY BY CASTING OVER IT A SHADOW THAT WILL NEVER
BE LIFTED .SOMHOW ,IT IS NO LONGER THE SAME . WE HAVE NOT MOURNED THE IMPAIRMENT OF MEMORY : MOURNING IS LACKING .IS NOT MADNESS THE EXPRESSION OF ITS OWN INABILITY TO RESIST MOURNING
It’s lovely to hear from you, Farid. Thank you for these beautiful lines. Do you know who wrote them?
Yes, grace and humor with a double dose of forbearance about the constant conversations about infirmity. But there is honesty in sharing these things rather than walking around with our mask. So, thank you for telling me of your struggles. All these things put together could make a woman lose her center.
Out I go to the garden with the inner writer complaining, “I don’t have time.”
Yes, acknowledging our physical infirmities, even small ones like mine this winter, somehow helps dispel their sting. I think it also prepares us for the greater pains that lie ahead. And of course, you know better than anyone that writing about the worst ones also has healing power. I can’t wait for your book to come out!! Love, Jeanie