|Lily Lake last Thursday|
There's really something different about being 72. One of my blogging friends, Nancy, just turned (as she put it) six times twelve and wrote a really nice post about it. It got me to thinking about things, as we share our lives with one another in the blogging universe. I realized that when I wake up these days, how old I am emerges into my consciousness in the form of a number: 72. But then again, it's just a number. Am I any different today than I was two years ago? Or will be in another two years?
Age is a curious thing, and I don't want to discount it. Aren't I the same person who wakes up today who woke up yesterday? Since my seventieth birthday, I've written hundreds of posts in both my blogs and lived another 841 days. I've observed the changes of the seasons from my front window, as well as in the wilderness as I hike with my friends every Thursday. During the seven years that I've been trekking with the Senior Trailblazers, there are several of us who don't come any more, because of illness or infirmities. We are, after all, seniors with a median age around 67. When I look back at pictures of who was on our hikes two years ago, I miss seeing the faces of old friends whose knees or backs or ankles just can't take it any more. One day I will be one of them, and another who has just begun her adventures with the seniors will take my place. That's the natural order of things.
What I don't want to do is miss out because I wasn't paying attention. One of the things this blog is good for is giving me a chance to notice the differences that emerge between weeks. I spend this time on Sunday mornings thinking about my life, which I wouldn't be doing otherwise. Sometimes the words just pour out of me and a theme quickly takes shape. Other times, like today, there's quite a bit of stopping and starting, pondering just what it is that I'm trying to capture.
In the two weeks since my car accident, I notice that I pay attention to the cars around me in a whole different way. They are moving so fast, and I've got to stay vigilant and not allow something like that to happen again. But since my reaction times are slower than they once were, I notice that driving now makes me feel anxious. In time, I suspect that will diminish, but should it? We are encased in metal boxes that travel at incredible speeds, and we all must trust those around us to do their part in keeping us safe. I see people all the time who are busy talking on the phone or being distracted in other ways. Driving and traffic have become so much a part of our lives that we stop paying attention, until something happens to change it, like being involved in a collision like I was.
I am fortunate to have developed a very full life for myself during my retirement years. Upon leaving my career and home town of Boulder seven years ago, I was excited to find a new way to live. Staying active and fit became the central focus of my days, rather than revolving around the Monday to Friday routine of work. I like routine, so I have a schedule that makes me aware of the days of the week. A three-times-a-week class at 9:00am, my coffee shop buddies who are now almost like family, my Thursday hikes and Saturday walks, and my blogging schedule. Nobody imposes my schedule on me; it's what gives my days structure and it's what I choose to do.
However, there's that old nemesis of habit becoming so entrenched that sometimes I find myself doing something just because that's what I do. And before long a season has passed, another year has come and gone, and I haven't been paying attention. Contemplation about one's life can be a valuable tool to make sure that these days that seemingly stretch ahead into infinity are not missed. Every once in awhile I need to stop and look around and take stock of where I am and where I am going. And appreciate the moment.
Yesterday was the first full day of spring, and as I sit here with my laptop I can see that the sun has just come up, and now the days will be longer than the nights until we reach the summer solstice. I learned yesterday that on the equinox, the sun rises due east and sets due west all over the world, no matter where you are located. But those who are in the Southern Hemisphere will begin to experience shorter days and longer nights, just the opposite of my experience way up here near the 49th parallel north.
It's all a matter of perspective. I've finally come to the end of this post, one that was rather hard to give birth to, but now it's done, and I can continue the rest of today's activities. Sunday is the one day that I don't have a set routine. After this post is written, that is. In a couple of weeks I'll be attending a two-day class on Saturday and Sunday and will not have the luxury of taking an hour to write this post, but today it's been valuable for me, and I think I've stopped long enough to pay attention and smell the flowers.