Aging, or getting older, often begins when you start to notice those small mental and physical changes that grab your attention. For Mary, the joints of her thumb and forefingers got stiff. It was harder to pick things up. Similarly, for Bill it was easy to start one task and move into another, unaware he had not completed the first. This lack of focus is haunting and scary. It can start as a small thing like needing a nap after lunch. There is no denying it, the body and mind do change. We may argue with these new internal states. For example, Mary said, “Maybe I just need to exercise my fingers. I never noticed that was important before.” Well, it helped a little, but it was still there.
AWARENESS IS GOOD?
Exercise does help keep and prolong flexibility. Mary’s solution is a great one. It’s so tempting to pretend that stiffness isn’t there. Oh denial, the great savior of pain and suffering, will announce its presence, by the absence of focus and curiosity. I sympathize, because it’s a confront to recognize what is happening as changes occur. What do you do with the lack of awareness, the denial need? Doesn’t that mean you don’t see it? Yes, it does. But, perhaps it is wise to be aware that these changes are here, when they are. It takes a willingness to accept the way it is. It takes a stepping a back from the immediate issue to allow the discomfort and deal with it as best you can.
LEADING IN LIFE
While visiting my mother-in-law in a nursing home, I was introduced to a group of older people who live there too. She introduced me to one women who was bent over as she sat with her legs unusable and withered. Her mood was bright. She was inquisitive and filled with energy, as she asked me who I was and how I was related to my mother-in-law. She was full of curiosity about us as new visitors. She was so attractive in the way she was able to engage, I wanted to stay and talk with her for hours. Her body disappeared as a concern for me. I was so impressed. It made me think about how it was I wanted to be when the time came. Aging gracefully can look like this!
I started to think, maybe the physiological symptoms have a function. They can let me know what’s important to notice. One important insight is to make good use of the time I have left. Another is to notice where I have power to determine my life. I realized the changes can spur my life on. They invite me to pick up the pace and go for it. Do I have to wait to be passionate and in action about my life no matter how my body is? I mean, I can feel that life energy in my body. It has no age. Maybe, it’s my job to find the value, my responsibility to make my life anew. No one is going to do it for me. That wonderful lady chose to be the leader of her life. What about it? How are we going to live? I know it’s a choice I have to make each moment, when those negative thoughts and feelings show up. Tricky isn’t it?