|Blue skies through the trees|
I started this blog in December 2009, almost a year after I had been writing on my other blog, DJan-ity, because I felt constrained to keep my posts short and write for a larger audience. I've written 323 posts here, only writing on Sunday mornings, and just looking at that number amazes me that there have been so many, that it has been so long. I guess it's because of the new year that I am in a reflective mood. It seems like a good time to stop and take stock of my life. This past year was momentous in many respects, but only a few events rise up be examined: I went to Turkey in February; I gave up skydiving and sold my gear; I visited my sister Norma Jean and met my new grand-niece Alicia; and I planted my garden spot for the fourth year in a row. In 2016, I will continue to learn more about the garden and will visit my sister again in the fall. I will always be a skydiver, but now I'm a retired one. I'm pretty much done with international travel, too; it's not much fun any more.
But gardening continues to bring me pleasure and I'm looking forward to the season. Me, who never dug in the dirt before and didn't know anything about the joys and trials of gardening. This post tells how our community garden began in May 2012. For one thing, I thought I was in shape back then and was taken by surprise by how much work gardening is, and how sore I was. Now I expect it, and I've discovered ways to minimize all that bending and pulling, and even so my arms, back and legs get sore in a way that none of my other exercising even begins to touch. I've learned how to battle slugs and aphids and love the fruits of my labor. Nothing tastes quite as good as a strawberry or a tomato right straight out of the garden. I'm happy to have only a 7-by-23-foot plot. It's more than enough for me.
Yesterday I went to see the new Star Wars movie. Many of my blogging friends have seen it and most of them loved it. I've seen all seven of them, of course, and the first three were wonderful. It was 1977 when the first episode was released; both Han Solo and Princess Leia are present in the first one and in this last one, too. People are surprised at how much they've aged, but give me a break: it's been forty years! I heard that Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) had to lose thirty pounds to reprise the role. She looks her age, but that is to be expected, if you ask me. She obviously hasn't had tons of plastic surgery to try to stop the appearance of aging, as so many in Hollywood have done. Harrison Ford (Han Solo) bears little resemblance to the dashing young man he was forty years ago. I noticed a few scenes where he obviously isn't able to run very fast; I smiled when I noticed that because we are the same age.
I enjoyed the movie but I wouldn't say I loved it. There were a lot of action scenes that began to tire me out and make me wish it could all be over. The parts I enjoyed the most are the relationships between people. The new faces are wonderful (playing the parts of Finn, Rey, and Poe) and the new villain is pretty good, too (Kylo Ren). The movie sets you up for the next one, and it made me remember how much I yearned for the next episode when I walked out of the first Star Wars movie. Almost forty years later, here I am still enjoying adventures in a galaxy far, far away.
As I take stock of the past year, I realize that there are more than a couple physical aspects of aging that have made themselves known to me lately. I also cannot deny that being in my mid-seventies means that not only have I slowed down, but I am having to watch my step more carefully. I've taken several spills this past year, and I've got pictures of scraped knees and elbows to prove it. I broke a trekking pole falling this last Thursday on the snow and will have to replace it, since I cannot hike on anything other than flat surfaces without the use of them. Giving me four points of contact with the ground rather than two makes all the difference in my ability to stay upright on ascents and descents. That's a little distressing when I think about it. I'm looking down a lot, watching for uneven ground.
And then there's neuritis and neuralgia. I remember as a kid hearing those words on TV selling something to help old folks deal with them. They are words for inflamed nerves. I've got several places on my body where I've sustained past injuries, and apparently as you age those damaged nerve pathways flare up now and then. It feels like shingles but isn't as serious, apparently. Recently I had a bout of neuritis that made me spend several days taking it very easy. It's better now, though. But it's enough to bring you down if one only concentrates on what's going south in the physical realm.
Well, I began this post with a title that reminds me of what I see when I look up. When I stop for a moment and lean on my trekking poles and see what's above me, it can be breathtaking. I also take that as a metaphor for life: if I spend all my time looking at what's not working, what once was but isn't any more, I could get very depressed. But I get to choose not only how to live my life but also how I manage the aging process. I can always stop and gaze at the heavens and remember that there is much, much more about life to learn and explore as I navigate the shoals of seniority.
Not everybody gets the opportunity to grow old, but I have, and I am grateful, so very grateful for the health and abilities I still have in abundance. I have just finished a second reading of Atul Gawande's book Being Mortal and cannot recommend it highly enough. Although I read it the first time only a year ago, it was like reading it for the first time, since I've been studying to become an Advance Care Directive facilitator. My perspective has changed. Now I have my own hard copy and will cherish it and re-read it again and again. It's a tool to help me become a wise old woman.
It happened again. I sat down in my bed with my laptop across my knees, sipped my tea as I wrote this post, and now I've reached the place where I take stock of my surroundings and get ready to publish. My partner is, as usual, still sleeping next to me, and the window curtain is pulled against the darkness outside. The sun won't come up for another hour, but the days are getting imperceptibly longer now. We will gain more than a minute of daylight today, which adds up quickly from one week to the next. And every day we gain a few more seconds and minutes as we move toward the light.
I hope you will think about where you have come this past year and share it with me, if you wish. I love all of my virtual friends and wish you all good things in the coming year. Until next week, when we meet again, be well and please accept this electronic hug.