I don't feel any different inside than I did when I was a young woman on the threshold of becoming an adult. So much has happened to me in the past seventy years, but nothing I knew then could have prepared me for this time in my life. I got here one day at a time, one decade followed another until I woke up yesterday with a smile on my face, realizing I made it all the way to old age. I am a septuagenarian now!
In a way it's freeing. I read an article not long ago by Dr. Andrew Weil, who turned seventy last June and what it meant to him. A video link to the interview is here. He says we must acknowledge that we are older, but that doesn't mean the opportunity to grow and change has disappeared. It's different now; this decade of life is one of inevitable physical decline, but we have an opportunity to meet it with grace and equanimity if we so choose. Oh, I do, I do!
When I turned sixty, I told few people, since I was working full time and teaching skydiving every weekend to myriad students. I felt a little embarrassed to still be doing what I was at such an advanced age. Since then, I have retired from my job and stopped teaching skydiving, moved from Colorado to Washington state and began a new phase of life. I still spend the summers here jumping out of airplanes for fun, but whereas a decade ago I made hundreds of skydives every year, now I make fewer than fifty. The desire to teach left me long ago, and as I watch new jumpers at the Drop Zone with their instructors, I'm glad that others are still interested in doing what once seemed like a necessary part of my life.
It's a good thing to realize that the old saying about when one door closes, another opens, is real. I've found it to be very true throughout my life. Once upon a time, I could not have imagined my life today being fulfilled without the parts of it that seemed essential back then. I have no living children and no grandchildren. In my twenties as a young mother of two, I could not have imagined being happy today, but I am.
I realize that the world of blogging is essential to my happiness today. Although I have no grandchildren, I have a grandniece I love very much and am close to my siblings and their children. My blogging friends show pictures of their grandchildren and I cherish them, hold many of them close to my heart and and marvel at their precocity. Sometimes I will stare at a picture of Hope, one particularly beautiful and radiant being, and give thanks to the universe that I get to share in her life. Thank you, Dianne (Forks Off the Moment), for being willing to blog through the ravages of Hurricane Sandy and showing me how you and Hope are making it through.
Without the connection of the blogosphere, my life would be diminished. A decade ago I didn't have a clue that it would become so indispensable to me, or even that I could love and cry over people around the world whom I will never meet but who have become as important to me as family. As the world grows more and more connected, we become part of each other's lives in ways never before imagined in the course of history. My family has expanded to encompass the entire globe.
As I sit here in my usual place, rain drumming on the roof and my partner fast asleep next to me, I realize that my septuagenarian years will no doubt hold many wonders I cannot possibly anticipate, along with the inevitable decline of physicality. My spiritual self has no boundaries and I feel my heart swelling with the possibilities! Reminds me of a favorite Emily Dickinson poem:
I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –
Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –
Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –
Isn't that just the most beautiful expression, "spreading wide my narrow hands to gather Paradise"? Oh, yes! Until next Sunday morning, I hope you will spend some time with me in that gathering.