|The Church Mountain trail|
About the title of this post: a while back I wrote about living one's dash, the length of the time between the year of your birth and the year of your death. That's the time I'm talking about, the only time I have, as far as I know. We don't know the second date until we're either there or almost there. And sometimes we never know it at all; if one dies in an accident, the time on this beautiful planet is over and the victim never got a chance to think about that second number.
There are few ways to mark the passage of time that are as unsettling as watching an old movie and thinking about the actors. Yesterday I started to watch "The Wrath of Kahn," an old Star Trek movie that I saw in the theater when it first came out in 1982. That's 33 years ago now, and most of the actors are either dead or unrecognizable today, like William Shatner, who was fifty then and is now well into his 80s. I tired of all the commercials so I turned off the sound and let the images on the screen entertain me. I was only forty myself, and I remember thinking of myself as middle-aged. Little did I know what lay ahead of me, some good times and some bad ones. That's what happens to everybody, but I also remember making a decision to live my life as fully as I could so that I wouldn't end up on my deathbed wishing I had spent my life differently.
Of course, I'm naturally a bit of an adventurer. By the age of forty I had traveled by myself to Peru for six weeks, taking a leave of absence from my job, one that I would end up retiring from in 2008. In 1990, I made a tandem skydive and ended up jumping out of airplanes for the next 25 years. I've been fortunate to travel to many parts of the world, thanks to my old boss Mickey. He took me along not only for the company but also to work for him. It was so worth it, and it's one reason why I don't have much wanderlust left in me. Plus international travel these days is grueling in many respects.
This last February I made my last skydive and sometimes I miss the adrenaline rush I got from that experience. But I'm not only still able to dance and hike and exercise, I'm pretty good at it all. However, my balance has gotten worse lately, I realize, and I'm going to take some steps to improve it. I fell twice last week, once twisting my ankle and going down, and the other time slipping on a wet rock and crashing to the ground, hurting the same elbow twice in a row. I writhed in agony the second time, while hiking with the Trailblazers; it is three days later and the elbow is finally okay. At least I didn't break anything, but for a moment I thought I had. I tried balancing on one leg for awhile yesterday and realized I've really lost the ability to do so. When did that happen? I'm determined to work on it and am considering taking up tai chi, which is supposed to help seniors maintain a healthy balance. It's offered at my local Senior Center and I've heard good things about the class.
I also realize that I'm a social exerciser, that if I have a schedule and a class to attend, I'll keep it up. If left to my own devices, I slack off. Routine and deadlines work for me, but that's not true for everybody. Smart Guy is the exact opposite: if he's expected to attend a regular class, it weighs on him and he eventually stops going. He's much more self-motivated than I am. I wonder if our different temperaments make a difference with that; he's introverted and I'm extroverted. But it's curious how each of us finds a way to live our lives and enjoy each other's company so much. He's my rock. I must remember to thank him for his steady inspiration. (I know he'll read this so I'm cheating a little.)
A while ago I read the most wonderful book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. I think I mentioned the book before, but I've recently decided to go ahead and purchase it, since during my training to become an End-of-Life advance directive facilitator, it keeps coming up in my mind, and I realize it's the sort of book that you need to read more than once. Here's a salient quote from it: “Living is a kind of skill. The calm and wisdom of old age are achieved over time.” If you haven't already read this book, I highly recommend it. The purchase and re-reading of it will be my Christmas present to myself.
And this coming week and the next will be filled with holiday parties, the winter solstice, Christmas and the New Year. I hardly got accustomed to the year being 2015, and now it's over. One thing I've got to say is that time really does seem accelerated during my seventies. I've always wondered if it's because each year is a smaller and smaller percentage of my life, or whether it's caused by the days flying by because so much of my daily routine goes unnoticed by my conscious mind. Whatever the reason, it's a little disconcerting. Didn't the new millennium just happen? And it's already 2016?
Yes, I'm definitely dashing through my dash, on my way to what I hope is the calm and wisdom of old age. I'm certainly enjoying myself these days, even if I have bumps and bruises to go along with my bum knee and other aches and pains. I will go to a movie today with my friend Judy, I will dance for an hour after a nice latte at the coffee shop with my friends, and I'll come home and spend some time with my partner, who still sleeps next to me as I finish another Sunday post. I never know for sure what will come out, and it's never quite what I expect, but I am again feeling pretty darn good and ready for the day's adventures.
I hope that you will remember to take care of yourself during these hectic holiday times. Oh, that reminds me: a trip to my independent bookstore to buy Being Mortal will be on my agenda today. The closer I get to Christmas, the less I want to be in any store! Don't forget to find a few things to be grateful for today, and remind yourself that you are cherished and wished all good things by at least one person today. Until next Sunday, be well.