I noticed yesterday in the NYTimes that the author of “How We Die”, Sherwin Nuland, died at the age of 83. In his book, I gather that he decries aging in general, the frustration of our bodies not being what they were when we were, well, younger. This has never made much sense to me: it’s like railing at the weather when it snows a lot in a winter (like this one,) or the temperatures dropping, or drought even. I mean, what can we actually do about it? Unless I’m missing something, it seems that our role is to figure out how we’re going to deal with it, or make provisions for getting through it.
So, we will all get to an age if we’re lucky (so many people dying young,) when we have to make adjustments in how we get around. I thought I was doing a pretty good job of it until I stepped off the stairs before I was on the ground level. That feeling of exasperation to me was as sharp as the sound of bones cracking when I landed.
But back to the topic at hand, what’s the use of spending time and energy being unhappy about aging? Especially if we take ourselves in hand and are mindful about what we eat, and mostly about what we don’t eat or try not to eat too much of. . . Stay off the crutches of medication, over the counter or otherwise. . . Maintain one’s health (I have taken Pure Synergy, a green algae powder in tomato juice for years) with natural supplements. Drink plenty of water and be regular. Get enough sleep.
I can also describe the conclusion I have drawn about “things.” That’s right, all those things that when acquired, you’d think, “oh, so and so will love this later on.” Well, guess what? people have different tastes. They have small houses. They have enough stuff. They like different things. Whatever the reason, all the fuss and hoopla that is made about being specific about bequests is nonsense to me. When one is dead, you can’t keep people from misunderstanding, re-inventing or in any other way not doing what you had intended for them to do. Just stop and think about all of the time, energy and money spent by people going the Courts to get what they think they deserve from the estate of the dead. It is so meaningless, as far as I’m concerned. In the end, trust and integrity are the only things that matter. If it’s there, fine. If it’s not, there’s nothing you can do about it anyhow because you won’t be around to see what happens. So, why worry about it?
So, that’s conclusion number two: things don’t matter. The first one is that none of us can stop time nor our bodies aging. Number three is that it’s up to us individually how good or positive each day is going to be after you wake up. It’s truly remarkable how being immobilized as I am now levels the playing field down to just about nothing, except perhaps taking care of myself to get dressed and clean, preparing a few meals, straightening things up a little. The rest of the time, I am lying in the sun and basking in its warmth from the skylights; appreciating the help that is extended from many people who come in and out to lay down a sheet of plywood so the wheelchair moves more easily; install a handle at just the right angle for it to be most useful in the john, propping the cushions high enough with knee support so my foot is higher than my heart. Yesterday, I felt for the first time that there was a space between the cast and my enclosed leg–which I take to mean that elevating the leg has resulted in a reduction of swelling. A very different feeling. I’m buoyed up by that new space.
Even though I’ve looked over the abyss about what will happen (or may) after I’m gone, I actually think that I’m going to be around for awhile. Still have trouble learning lessons that I had thought I learned awhile back. So, I’m human too. I’m grateful for my family, who puts up with me when I am crabby and impatient.
Oh, and while It is flattering when the nurses and residents compliment me that I look so much younger than my age. I have to admit it makes me feel good. But, what is age anyhow? What’s the correlation between the way your body is and your age? More importantly, what’s the correlation between your age and your attitude? And finally, isn’t your spirit what matters most anyhow? I happen to think so. What do you think?