Well, I don’t think it’s quite that bad . . . at least not yet!
Aging, if we are blessed to live long lives, is a gradual process. If I went to bed as a 16 year old and woke up as my nearly 66 years, clearly, I might feel a little bit like this cartoon. Thank goodness the aging transformation is not that rapid!
Sure, I have some failing body parts. I had a knee replacement some years ago and may need another in the near future. With that, I can’t run as I once loved to do. A riffle shot too close to my ear caused hearing loss. My “perfect peepers” now require glasses to read anything. Sometimes, I forget what day it is, someone’s name, or where I put my glasses. Managing a healthy weight has been a struggle for me all of my life and has only becomes more challenging with age. Finally, my favorite foods no longer agree with me. None of these is life threatening. I am profoundly grateful for that.
Perhaps my body is “losing it” a little bit as I get older. As I reflect on all of the aspects of aging, I can handle my incidental ailments. What is most devastating to me is the loss of life I have seen over the years. I have lost loving family members, dear friends, and a long list high school classmates Age does not discriminate. I have seen unthinkable suffering and wonder why. I have seen unexpected tragedies and wonder why again. Suffering and/or loss of those important to me are by far the toughest parts of aging from my perspective.
Yes, I am getting older but I am also much wiser, far more compassionate and almost “maternally” caring then that 16 year old. I like myself better. With all of the suffering and loss I have experienced, I cherish more each day my life and the lives of those near and dear to me.
I CHOOSE TO EMBRACE AGING RATHER THAN FEELING DISGRACED ABOUT IT! How? I’m taking control of “it” rather than “it” controlling me. I have discovered the importance of four words in my life; determination, dedication, change and acceptance.
So, I can’t run anymore. It took me a few years but I realized there are other ways to exercise. I tried assorted at-home exercise regiments with no success. I finally rediscovered my passion for cycling. This time I took to the road on a bicycle instead of a motorcycle. My first time out, I thought I would collapse after just four miles. I was not that 16 year old for sure but also did not comprehend that there is a right way to begin anything. I should have done my homework. I strongly urge everyone to check with a doctor before any new exercise program and also consult with a professional in the respective field of any new activity. I finally did both. Doctor said my knee could tolerate biking. Heart and other vital organs were all good. A reputable bicycle shop owner measured me and suggested a different bike for my body type. That was six years ago. Last summer, I rode my bike acrossAmerica. That’s what determination, dedication, acceptance and change did for me.
No amount of determination, dedication or change can give me better peepers or improve my hearing. Acceptance, however, reminds me to have multiple pairs of reading glasses around and to sit with my better ear next to the person I want to most hear. When I decide I want to hear everyone all of the time, I accept the fact that I will need some help with a hearing aid.
My favorite foods and weight management? I accept the fact that it’s a battle for me. I am determined to beat it and dedicated to finding that change in diet which suits my health and lifestyle. I’ll get back to you on the status of that one; perhaps in another article.
While I have those little memory lapses from time to time, they are more frustrating than dangerous. I’m in good company. Friends and family half my age have the same problem. When I realize it’s happening, it’s generally less about losing my memory and more about losing my focus on what’s important to me at this stage of my life. I turn to more “me time” by riding my bike, reading, and spending special time with family and friends. For the most part, the rest can wait. “Me time” makes it easier for me to deal with the rest of the noise in my life. I highly recommend it for everyone.
The calendar says I will be 66 this year. With a few little inconveniences, I appreciate my life so much more than I did as a teenager, a young (at times foolish) man in my 20’s and 30’s, and a money-making, ambitious man in my 40’s and 50’s. I have not yet grown up and hope I never do. I have, nevertheless, learned how to act in public (I think) and continue to learn something new and at times something stupid everyday.
Here are my final thoughts for everyone. Like yourself enough to keep moving, keep loving and keep learning. Age happens! Make it the best it can be. That’s my plan!
“I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.”
— Winston Churchill