I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Running out of time

Mt. Ranier from the plane
I am home again, sitting in my usual spot in the bedroom, laptop across my knees. It's already ten degrees warmer outside than it was at this time yesterday, so I am tempted to believe the weather when it says we will begin our warmup and transition to rain for the coming Christmas week.

Yesterday I walked with the ladies (ten of us showed up) in really cold weather, which didn't seem too bad once the wind had died down. We did walk through some patchy ice on the trails, but nobody fell, not even me. People I know have fallen on the ice; my neighbor Lynn fell and twisted her ankle and tried to brake her fall with one hand, so she now has a sore arm and sore ankle.

Looking back on my visit to Florida, a few things stand out: the wonderful warm weather and that fabulous outdoor pool my sister swims in every morning. They seem like a mirage from here, something that I just made up in a dream, although I can imagine myself slipping into that water and taking off for my first lap, watching the bubbles as I breathe out into the water and begin my stroke. I have everything here to continue swimming if I choose, but I probably won't. Our pool is indoors, of course, and the lanes are shorter and very much in demand. At my sister's YMCA, I never had to share a lane, not once. Not to mention having her nearby was simply delightful.

I haven't had a chance to miss her or Peter (her son who lives with her), since I've been pretty busy since I returned home. I started my travels from her home at 6:00am and was picked up by SG at 6:00pm, and with a three-hour time change I realized I had been traveling for fifteen hours. Fortunately he was standing outside the shuttle bus from Seattle with my heavy coat in hand, and he then drove us back to our own warm and snug home. All the icy patches on the ground and in the streets reminds me that we haven't had a hard freeze and snow like this in years.

The next morning, Thursday, I ventured out with my car on the icy streets and found that almost everything had cleared, as the sunshine allowed most of the streets to be drivable. Even though the temperature has stayed frigid, I wasn't too nervous as I drove to the Senior Center. How many people would show up for our shortened hike before our Christmas party? Plenty, as it turned out: there were fifteen of us on the Hertz Trail on the north shore of Lake Whatcom. Afterwards, we went to Sue's home, where those who didn't hike, as well as the other group of Trailblazers, gathered for a wonderful potluck. It was the best attended in years, with more than forty of us enjoying fabulous food and company. Once I got home I wrote a post about it here.

Today I will attend my last Sunday yoga class with Laifong, before a break in the schedule and then a new instructor for Level I. I am making progress, slowly and gradually, and now can do some poses that seemed impossible a year ago. Yes, it's been a year since I started at Yoga Northwest, and I am no longer falling as often; my balance is definitely better, and I've begun to gain strength in my back and arms. And it's another community of like-minded people: I see some of the other practitioners around town and we acknowledge each other with a smile.

About the title of this post, "running out of time." Why did that come to mind first thing this morning? Partly it's the time of year, when everywhere I see reminders that we only have two more weeks in this year, with "best of" lists and retrospectives already beginning. I am only just now beginning to feel comfortable with 2016, and now it's almost gone, with 2017 on the horizon. Some years just fly by, and at this time in my life, that is the norm. The days and weeks and months no longer seem to have a simple 24 hours, 7 days, 12 months—they accelerate in their passage until I feel dizzy with the realization that I'm definitely running out of time.

No matter what happens in the remainder of my life, I've had a very good one, filled with everything that a person could desire: a happy family life when I grew up, lots of thrills and chills as I began my own journey out into the world, with love and loss and pain, just like everybody else. I had a good career and became more successful than most women I know, with a salary that seemed huge to me at the time. And I discovered an avocation in skydiving that gave me my very much loved life partner, as well as the chance to instruct more than a thousand students to safely enjoy my chosen sport.

In my move to Bellingham nine years ago now, I also discovered that it was possible to develop a daily routine that gives me everything I need in retirement to stay healthy and engaged in activities that fill me with joy. And the world of the internet, especially Blogland where we visit one another, has come to fill my need for mental pushups. I've got friends all over the world whose journey I share, and when I think of you all I feel immense happiness for our ability to know each other through our blogs. In retirement, I have managed to maintain a healthy intellectual life. I am always on the lookout for another good book to read, and my blogging friends often point me to new ones.

And then there's this particular blog, my Eye on the Edge, that reminds me that the Edge is not very far off, now that I am in my mid-seventies and, although trying hard to stay healthy, knowing that we all must find a way to make a good exit from this wonderful place we call home. We have the ability to look at the future, whatever it holds, as a possibility to extract every little bit of love and joy we can from it. Einstein once said, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

You know which way I choose to live. I hope you, too, will see the miracle of your life, the wonder of it, as a gift that you share with me. Please remember to take care of yourself during these hectic times, and savor every single last little bite. Until we meet again next week, on Christmas, be well and don't forget to hug your loved ones.


Gingi said...

I miss the warm weather of Florida!! We lived there a few years ago till the Navy moved us... those were some lovely white sand beaches Christmases though! - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Linda Reeder said...

As much as I am ready to slow down, I realized that with one week to go, I am running out of time to be ready for Christmas, so it's time to update my to do lists and stay on track.
I will be sorry to see the rain come back, but glad that the danger of ice and snow will be gone.
You have such a good way of making the most out of your daily life, wherever you are. Stay well and enjoy your Christmas week. I'll see you on the Internet!

Anonymous said...

I agree with many of your thoughts today. Treat every day as a miracle.

Barb said...

A lovely post, DJan. I seem more aware lately of the passage of time. I've been giving some serious thought to how I want to spend what's left. I see so much that's extraordinary in the ordinariness of my daily life. Stay well and acive into 2017!

Far Side of Fifty said...

I think next Sunday will be Christmas Day:) I hope you have a wonderful week. I have been seeing quite a few happy news stories, lots of Secret Santas out there making life a bit better for some this Christmas! One was a woman living in a motel with two children...I can only imagine what their life is like this Christmas and how much they appreciated the Santa gift:)

Deb Shucka said...

Such a lovely post, DJan! One of the things I love about you is your willingness to look forward and to embrace the view, no matter what. So much gratitude here. So much beauty.

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you.
You embody positive thinking - and action. I am so very grateful to have found you in the blogosphere.

John's Island said...

Happy Sunday to you, DJan! Great to have you back home safe and sound and hear about your fine visit with your sister. And it is great to have you back here writing Eye again and leaving me inspired about life. I think I will consider reading Eye next Sunday as one of my “stocking stuffers”. :-) In the meantime, hope you and SG have a fine week ahead!

John's Island said...

PS I love that picture of Mt Rainier from the plane! Great shot!

Marie Smith said...

Sending a hug your way, Jan!!! Have a great week.

Tabor said...

You are an inspiration. While I am not a joiner and would not feel normal exercising with a group, you do remind me that I need to get back to my exercise routine at home. I have been distracted, but bloggers such as you remind me I owe my life more activity.

Red said...

You have an excellent suggestion of how to live your life. I look back and think how fortunate I have been. I try to keep living a healthy lifestyle. Yes, the time also flies. It's the same for all seniors.

The Furry Gnome said...

Very inspiring words. Thank you.

Rita said...

Love and hugs!! ;) :)

Arkansas Patti said...

I'm still trying to imagine sharing a swimming lane. Hum. So glad you are back and feeling good. Sometimes a dose of the mullygrub makes us appreciate good health. My advice today is if you think you are going to fall, don't try to catch yourself. Those aging tendons don't do well and take forever to heal. Just do a face plant instead:)) Seriously, hope your friend heals quickly.
So glad you are moving ahead with Yoga. You are my hero in how you tackle everything with passion. Thanks for the great example.

Rhapsody Phoenix said...

Blessings and welcome back.
Its great you spent time with your sis and nephew.
It's also wonderful that SG was there for you when you returned and coat in hand oh how wonderful "way to go SG!"

You do seemed to have a good life. I like your adventurous side, perhaps because I don't have one...lol, lol. I like that you live! so few do.

Enjoy your Christmas and happy new year.

“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information, but makes our life in harmony with all existence”-Rabindranath Tagore

Cynthia said...

Your words are a beautiful reminder at this time of year to hold tight to each present moment and live It to its fullest. Thanks for sharing your thoughts every week. Merry Christmas!

C-ingspots said...

Oh I love this post! Your reassuring and calming words bring comfort and hope. I agree about how incredibly fast the time goes these days, and remember my momma telling me as a young girl, that the older I got, the faster time would go. I didn't understand then, but certainly do now. I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip with your sister, and that lovely sunshine. Sorry about the illness, timing is everything. You are so encouraging. Your outlook on life, your thankfulness, your wisdom and your desire to take care of yourself and squeeze every last little drop out of life is remarkable! I can only hope to as like-minded and able-bodied when I am your age...assuming I live that long. :) But, I am certainly going to try! I'm reminded of the words in a Jimmy Buffet song. "can't look backwards too long, cause there's so much good waitin' in front of me". Truth.

Merry Christmas to you and your love...may all your wishes come true.