Monday, July 25, 2016

On getting older







I am rapidly approaching my mid-50s.  I never thought I'd live this long, so that's a nice surprise!  I am seeing the changes in my appearance, weight gain, angel hairs, loss of muscle tone in the face and all over.  I am not depressed by any of this.  Oh sure, I miss my firm skinny body, but that's been gone for awhile now and I've gotten used to it.  Losing my pretty face for a plumper, saggier version has been a little harder to watch happen, but I'm not sad about that either.  It's a natural progression.  I had my moment of youth, and I have no interest in trying to desperately hang on to what once was. 

Some might think I'm well-adjusted to aging.  Nope, I don't think so, I'm just stoic about things that I don't have much power to alter.  Fighting it seems like such a waste of what time I've got left.  If my parents and grandparents are any measure of my possible longevity, I have about 30 years left.  That's a whole 'nother lifetime spread out before me!  It's not as long as I've lived, but it's still a pretty good chunk left.  I know anything could happen and I might not get any of those years, or all of them, so with that in mind, I'm trying to plan for this future. 

I am getting weaker as I age, and my three times a week weight-lifting and aerobic workouts are helping me maintain some muscle strength, but muscle deterioration is inevitable.  Now, I'm not some hunched-over, decrepit old woman, but I can't lift and move furniture like I once could and I get exhausted from physical labor much quicker than I used to.  This is my body saying 'you're not a Spring chicken anymore,' and I continue to work, lift, pull, push, and say, 'too bad, this work has to get done.'  So as a result, I'm in much better shape than my mother was at this age.  This is the best that I can do right now, given my busy schedule.  Maybe when I retire I can become a body builder or long-distance runner again, maybe not. 

The thing is, I really believe "use it or lose it" is true.  I can see others my age who aren't as flexible or as strong as me.  I don't want to be stuck in a body that doesn't work for me, so I need to keep this one working as well as possible for as long as possible.  There will be time for sitting around later.  Right now, I need to continue to live, continue to move, grow, and push myself.  That's the physical side of it.

The other side of aging is, 'okay, what have I accomplished in this life?'  Is there anything I still want to do, and better do before I'm no longer physically able to do that?  Is there anything I still want to accomplish?  Anywhere I want to go?  So I find myself thinking along the lines that, I need to finish my genealogy for my kids.  I need to preserve some of the stories of my family.  I need to make sure my mother's handmade blankets are passed down.  And as I work on my genealogy, and I wonder about my ancestors, what they thought and felt during their lives, I think I should write something so my descendants will know who I was, what made me happy, what injustices bothered me, or why I made the choices I did.  I feel the need to leave something behind. 

I have thousands of poems from a lifetime of writing.  Only a few are just above ordinary, but there is that.  I have short stories, a screenplay, and a nearly finished novel.  I have newspaper columns I used to write and years worth of daily life stories on this blog, that I need to transfer into another form, off the computer for safe keeping.  So I think if I preserve some of these things, my descendants will know I was a writer.  I liked building and salvaging things.  I was a lifelong tinkerer, always trying to improve my own little corner of the world.  Did I discover a cure for cancer, climb Everest, or go to the moon?  No, mine has been an ordinary life, but an enjoyable one.  I still think there's an opportunity for me to do something more, but like many people, I don't know quite what that more is.  So I keep living.  I keep doing what is important to me and makes me happy, and maybe before my time is up, I'll have a little bit more interesting life story for my descendants to inherit. 

Last full day in Europe

Ahh, all good things must come to an end.  Our European vacation is drawing to a close.  We leave Nice this morning to drive back to Barcelo...