I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, July 8, 2012

How much longer?

Mt. Baker behind me last Thursday
I got up this morning, read my usual blogs and emails, headed over to the news sites I read every morning and even read reviews of the last three movies I've seen (Moonlight Kingdom, Rock of Ages, and To Rome With Love). I felt luxuriant with an abundance of time to get things done this morning, before heading out to the Drop Zone in Snohomish to make a few skydives. I was a little bit amazed that I had so much time, so I decided to pop in a load of laundry.

And then while I was fixing my breakfast, I realized why I had so much time: I had forgotten, again, to write my Sunday morning post on this blog. So once I got my breakfast started, I came out here to my trusty iMac to write this. The title comes from pondering the three things on my mind this morning: how much longer will I be able to skydive? How much longer will my knees hold out so I can hike in these beautiful places? And lastly, how much longer should I keep going with this Eye on the Edge blog?

I'll take them in order: this year I will turn seventy. Smart Guy has already hung up his equipment, which could be taken out and used again if the need surfaced (which it probably won't, given his age, his shoulders, and the age of his skydiving gear). But it could! And I am still driving down to Snohomish to play in the air now and then, as the summer season has just begun. At least this year I will continue to skydive, and if I want to make a jump as a septuagenarian I will need to make a few jumps next spring, since my December birthday will come and go without much chance here in the Pacific Northwest. So that is up in the air, so to speak. Time will tell.

I went on the same hike twice with the Seniors last week, once on Monday and once on Thursday. Al wanted to check out the condition of the snow to see if it was suitable for the larger group. He sent out an email inviting anyone who might want to join him last Monday. I went, although this week he's suggested something similar and I'll probably just go on the Thursday hike rather than make a second excursion. That's not because I wouldn't enjoy it, but because the wear and tear on my body means I feel the aches and pains far more than I like to admit. Of course, I'm not alone in this, since I hike with people around my age, but I have also noticed that in the more than three years I've been hiking with them, many people aren't going out with us any more, mostly because of infirmities such as bad knees and difficulty with the altitude and snow. I know that sometime in the future I might have to start going on the slower, easier hikes that the second group at the Senior Center offers. In the meantime, I really like being able to keep up with the tough guys.

The final "how much longer" is much more difficult to contemplate. I usually don't even begin to think about what I might write here until the night before, when I reflect on what would be interesting to me and to my readers. My readership is continuing to grow, without me even trying, and I get such amazingly insightful comments that I can't begin to express my gratitude... so I will continue here, with fits and starts, some good, some just filling the space, and sometimes, writing one on the fly, like this one today.

My mind has turned toward the day's activities, and I have certain rituals that I follow on a day when I'm going to skydive. Check my gear, make sure everything is in order, gas the car, stop at the coffee shop for a latte to keep me company on the drive south. It's a marvelous beautiful sunny day, and we haven't had one of those for awhile. Almost all of June was weathered out on the weekends, and I only made two jumps at the beginning of the month, nothing since. So there's the butterflies that I get every time when I've had a layoff of any sort. Dealing with those, practicing my emergency procedures (should I need them) so that they are fresh in my mind; it takes up plenty of my brain cells just making sure everything is as good as I can make it.

Then when I get there, my friend Linny takes over and makes decisions about what we will do in the air, what load we will get on, and all my fears recede into the background. Right now my life is more than full; it's overflowing with activity and excitement. I guess I will figure out "how much longer" one day at a time.


Jackie said...

As long as you enjoy what you are doing and you feel good during and after, my friend.
Have a beautiful day...stay safe and know that I am always glad to see you here whenever I can.
Smiles to you,

CiCi said...

In your case, "how much longer" is "as long as you want".

The Broad said...

All I can say is that you have my undying admiration! At no age would I have wanted to sky dive having suffered from mild to not-so-mild acrophobia for most of my life! I would say that as long as you feel able to do it than go for it! As long as you keep your self-awareness and honest self-appraisal, you will know when it's time to stop.

Trish said...

Frankly, DJan, I can't see you giving up on anything.

Anonymous said...

I don't have your courage, so no advice from me regarding skydiving. As for hiking, let your body tell you when to stop or switch to the easier group of hikers. I sometimes forget to click on your blog, but usually do so sooner or later. It's always a pleasure, DJan!

Bragger said...

I have been seriously considering going back to the drop zone, perhaps just for a tandem jump. Writing about my prior experiences has made me miss it. My Hubby will be so... not thrilled. Ha ha.

Gigi said...

I have to agree - as long as you want is the answer.

I love popping over here on Sundays and seeing what's been in on your mind. So with the "guilt" seed planted, now you can't possibly stop the blog. ;-)

Retired English Teacher said...

I think that when we ask ourselves these questions, we are actually acknowledging that we are want to remain realistic. When it comes hiking and skydiving, one certainly does not want to be in denial about one's fitness levels. Assessment of such things is never a bad thing to do.

When it comes to blogging, I certainly admire anyone who writes two blogs. I can't keep up with one. You have many loyal readers, but I think blogging has a way of evolving. When blogging becomes something that is no longer on my top list of priorities, I will give it up. I suspect you will do the same. In the meantime, I don't think I've ever not learned a lesson, or nor thought about something in a new, or not gained an insight from your weekly EOTE posts. I always look forward to reading them.

Sandi said...

You posed an interesting question this morning. I know that I find that question on my mind more often than I did even a year ago. I wonder how much longer will I be able to work, or to enjoy working, as my memory lapses increase. That's the hardest question for me.

I think the answer to your question lies in your fitness level (which is phenomenal!) and in the pleasure you derive from your activities. You will know when it's time to pursue other adventures!

Blogging can be laborious for me, so I can easily see giving that up when I can't find the time anymore.

However, I look forward to Sunday, knowing you'll have thoughtfully chosen a topic, and written something that always leaves me thinking! Even when you write "on the fly"!

Red said...

Your key phrase "my brain cells'[ is all that matters. We need something to keep us active in body and mind and you're an excellent example of keeping active.
70's not bad when you're 72!!!

Linda Reeder said...

You are such an introspective person that you will know when to stop. But when you do, you will find another outlet for your words and activities.

Arkansas Patti said...

So glad quitting was no where on your list.
I passed that seventy mark three years ago and nothing has stopped, just scaled back some. Blogging has filled a lot of the blank spaces age has created. It doesn't do much for our long muscles but it does flex those between our ears.

Grandmother said...

My father is 95 and still goes dancing twice a week. He was always a big walker and finds he can still enjoy dancing (he says because he can lean on his partner!). So do whatever you're able, or variations of it, for as long as you can. And have fun! We're changing the expectations of aging in the process.

Friko said...

The last sentence is the one that counts. Don't give up anything until you have to or when it stops being fun.

You are a very sensible woman and if you follow your instincts you'll get it right.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, more and more I appreciate the philosophy of one day at a time. In recent years, I've tried to establish some kind of routine that would work for at least four of the weekdays--leaving one weekday for doctor's appointments. But within a half our of getting out of bed each morning, I've reneged on my scheduling.

Something within calls me to simply live the day as it presents itself. That's difficult for me to do because always I've had a strigent schedule--things to accomplish before turning out the light each evening.

But since moving here to Missouri and having physical problems for three years, I finally seem to have not only accepted but to have embraced the whole idea of living the moment and letting life greet me with its "druthers."

So I applaud you for coming to this at such a young age!!!!! Peace.

Rita said...

I've never been one to think ahead, to be honest. Well, not much more than a month or two max--LOL! Basically just take it as it comes. So much of it comes too soon, anyways, so I just appreciate now, I guess. But you can do what you can right now to make tomorrow the best it can be--and you are already doing that--in spades! I hope you had a sunny dive into space, my friend. :)

Linda Myers said...

I was talking to my sister last week, bemoaning the fact that I haven't been on a 10k walk in several years, nor on a hike of more than three miles. She said, "Linda, you don't have to keep doing what you've done. There are other things."

Two milers are fun for me, and so is working in the garden.

On the other hand, I think you'll know when it's time to change your course. I doubt it will be a huge decision - just something that happens along.