|Diane, Jonelle, me, Jacqueline|
I almost called this post "Taking Inventory," because I'm realizing this morning, in the middle of May 2014, that it's time to do that. But the idea of rainbows seemed much more interesting to me. On Thursday, the eight of us piled into two cars and chatted as we made our way back to the Senior Center, more than an hour away. After we arrived, I had difficulty getting out of the car: my body was so tired and sore after the ten-mile hike that it didn't want to work. I hobbled over to my own car and made my way home. Same thing: after parking my car, I had to gradually work my muscles into moving mode before I could make it up the steps to the apartment.
When I was young, I well remember watching old people walk, that careful gait as if something might break if they were to move too quickly. I'm in a much better place today for understanding what they felt. I can still pretty much do everything I want to do, but the aftermath is entirely different these days. Although it's humorous to think of old folks moaning and groaning as they hold their backs and lean on their canes (or hiking poles), it's part and parcel of the aging process.
The inventory I was referring to is the state of my condition. It's possible for me to begin to obsess on how much longer I will be able to continue to carry out my activities, or instead, I can think of the beautiful places and rainbows that I will be able to enjoy today. When we moved here six years ago, I had just entered into retirement from a career I enjoyed, and it never occurred to me that I might create a lifestyle that could be every bit as full and satisfying, but you know, it is.
On Friday, the day after the hike, I went to my usual exercise class, because I knew that the moving and stretching of the class would make my bones feel much better, and that's exactly what happened. I wasn't completely recovered, but yesterday morning I felt good enough to go out with the walking club. I knew it would be a hilly six-mile brisk walk and wasn't really sure whether I would be up to it. When I arrived, I decided I would walk at the back of the group and not try to keep up with the faster walkers. There were sixteen women, all well known to me now, and I knew which ones would keep a decent but not blistering pace. It worked out just as I hoped.
What amazed me is that I was able to walk almost as fast as usual. After gathering for coffee, I noticed that as I rose to leave, I had to stand up slowly to get things moving again. It's beginning to feel almost normal, to ease myself into movement after some strenuous activity. My left knee is still giving me problems, but it's definitely better than it was a few months ago, and I carry the knee brace but usually don't need to use it. It does make some rather disconcerting pops and clicks in the morning before I get going, but there is little discomfort any more. So that's a plus.
Today, Sunday, is my day off from exercise, and other than some gardening and perhaps a visit to the gym for the steam bath or sauna, I'll take it easy. The difference these days is that I don't ever expect to be pain free any more. If I need to take an ibuprofen or two, I don't figure that's too bad, but I really do try to keep the pain meds to a minimum. I know myself too well: if it doesn't hurt, I'll push myself too far, so I pay attention to the state of my physical self.
There are three parts to my state: physical (I've covered that pretty well), mental, and spiritual. Mentally, I am pleased to notice that I seem to be in a holding pattern as far as being able to remember names and faces, with no discernible decline in my ability to carry out intelligent conversations. Apparently physical activity is one way to keep the mind agile, even as the body becomes less so. That's another plus.
And spiritual? My spiritual life seems to be expanding as my physical life declines. I'm reading a couple of good books about end-of-life issues (Tuesdays with Morrie and The December Project), both of which are memoirs that discuss those aspects we must all deal with as we approach the final act of life. These are not books that I sit down and devour, but ones that make me pause and think, ponder what I really want to accomplish in the time that remains to me. Of course, both of the people who are the focus of these two books were much older than I am now. Those years will pass quickly, though, and I definitely want to make the best use of them that I can.
Okay, I've done it: a full inventory of the three aspects of my life that I needed to think about. And I'm pretty happy with what I found. Of course, another very important part of my life is completely virtual: this connection I share with you through the Internet, through blogging. My friends around the world touch me through this connection and enrich my existence immeasurably. Thank you for being part of my life.