|Mt. Baker from High Divide last week|
We Senior Trailblazers had a wonderful time last Thursday, when I took that picture during our lunch stop. I'm still feeling the effects of all that effort in my legs; we old folks climbed more than a thousand meters (3,600 feet) to get to that spot. But we did it, every one of the fourteen of us. The youngest hiker is in her mid-sixties, and the oldest a decade older. Almost everybody is over seventy.
It's been eight years since I started hiking with this group, and we've covered an incredible amount of terrain. I've worn out at least five pairs of boots and have gone through several iterations of backpacks to carry my essentials with me. It's been awhile since I started using a hydration pack and now consider that one of my essentials. It gives me the ability to sip water continuously, rather than waiting for one of our infrequent stops. Between having snacks handy and the water, I can manage to keep going and hope that I have many more years to enjoy the outdoors with my friends.
But that is not guaranteed, is it? The people I hike with have changed over the years, with some people no longer hiking because of injury or illness. It's what happens when you are hiking with a group of elders. But we keep on going, and it gives me an incentive to stay in shape so that I can enjoy this activity for as long as possible. I had quite a scare in the springtime when one of my knees simply refused to work. Limping around, unable to climb or descend stairs, I was afraid that it was over, that my hiking days were behind me. But the knee gradually improved, and I am happy to say that my knees successfully carried me up and down all that distance this past week without complaint. They were both braced and the trekking poles were essential, but I did it.
Tomorrow my sister Norma Jean has another birthday. She and I have been growing old together, although mostly from a distance. We still spend some time on video chat together a couple times a month, but she's got her busy life and I've got mine. I cannot imagine my life without her in it, though; we are both now in our seventies and still doing everything we can to keep ourselves healthy. We are both obsessive exercisers and eat as well as we can for health. When we talk, it's rarely about our aches and pains (although there is that), but how we have been spending our days.
Yesterday I watched an interesting movie on my laptop. I've got Amazon Prime and it reminds me of new movies that come available. Last year I almost saw The Age of Adeline when it was in the theaters, but when I saw the premise I decided to skip it. The story is about a woman (Blake Lively) who has an accident that stops her from aging. She stays 29 years old and has to change her identity every decade to keep people from realizing that she's not changing. When she is over a hundred years old, another accident makes her normal again.
The movie isn't really memorable, but I found the premise interesting, and the acting was really good. I wasn't familiar with Blake Lively, but she plays the part very well, and I enjoyed it. What it also did was got me thinking about what it would be like if I were able to stay young while everyone around me continued to age. The movie did a good job of showing how miserable and lonely an existence it would be. Ellen Burstyn plays her daughter, one of the few who know her secret. To have an elderly woman (Ellen) calling this young-appearing woman mama was truly disconcerting.
When I realized that the one thing she would never be able to experience is growing old together with a loved one, it made me again thankful for the time I have with my friends and family, those moments that come for a brief instant and then move on. Sometimes the passage of time is imperceptible. Then I see a picture of myself as a young woman and remember that I was once very different from the person I am today. When did my hair turn white? It was a strand at a time, never noticing the process much, until one day it no longer had any brown in it at all. The imperceptible process of aging will continue in me and in my loved ones until something will remind me of how changed we are today from a decade ago.
There is no reason to try to hang onto youth. What that movie reminded me is that life must move on from the present moment in order to be worthwhile. It is dynamic and not static. To be unchanging in a changing world wouldn't be much fun, and yet we all think we are just the same today as we were yesterday. Perhaps the inevitable birthdays and pictures from years past are the keys to remaining aware of this precious moment, this one right here where I sit in my bed, creating a post in a time I've set aside for this task. I'm breathing in and out and will soon finish and will rise up out of bed to experience the summer day.
A season lasts three months, and we have four of them in each year of our lives. This summer season is almost to the halfway point, and then we will begin to move towards autumn, and the leaves on the trees will change color and fall to the ground. We are truly fortunate to be able to experience all the seasons to remind us of the many cycles we pass through during our journey through life.
My latest journey, the one where I get to be elderly, is so far pretty darn good. I'm growing older with my partner, who shares the journey with me, and my family and friends as well. As is true with most things in life, there are ups and downs: periods of calm reflection, along with periods of upsets. We always get to choose what we focus on, even if we aren't able to manage the particulars of our daily lives.
Oh, and there's one other partner with whom I share this ride: you, my dear reader. We've got each other's backs. I hope you will come again to share this time with me, but today, it's time already to move from this present moment into the day. I hope you will be well and spend some time thinking about the journey we share until we meet again.