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. 

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CK, I thought of you when I saw this.