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, October 20, 2019

Accepting changes

After a skydive
It's been a long time since I've made a skydive. More than four years, in fact. I was an instructor when this picture was taken. I've always liked this photo, because it shows how happy I felt afterwards. That was true more often than not. Skydiving is part of my personal history, and like so much of my life, while in the past, those memories continue to surface.

For some reason, my dreams have lately taken me back into those years. I loved what I did, and I had many friends who were also with me when we jumped out of perfectly good airplanes together. I woke from a dream the other night where I could feel the air when I leaped out into space. It was very vivid and real. The colors were brilliant and all my senses were engaged. Except I was dreaming it all.

Sometimes I wonder if I could even make a skydive today. I've still got all my faculties, my knees and body still work well enough, and after more than four thousand skydives, surely I would remember how. But would I want to? What compelled me back then? I never let anything stand in my way when I wanted to jump, and long days out at the Drop Zone always left me feeling blissfully tired as I drove home.

Ah, but that was then. Who in the world was that person? Is she still a part of the present day me? Changes sometimes come slowly, and other times they come all at once. Today the injuries I sustained during my skydiving years are beginning to remind me that they will always be there, alongside my happy memories. That is normal, and I have been incredibly fortunate to have become a senior citizen, made it through all these years, with who knows what adventures still to come?

One of my favorite blogging friends, Doris, is now celebrating having written her 100th post. Now for some of you, this doesn't sound like much, but she started writing Engaging With Aging when she turned 95. She's now 97, twenty years older than I am, and she writes with honesty and vigor about her ARCs (age-related changes) and how she copes. Her past posts are essential reading for me these days.

She's got one adventure ahead of her that we will all share: leaving our bodies behind as we pass from this earth. I wonder if I will be able to have so much of my essential me-ness with me as she does, as I move through the rest of my life. Even now, she looks forward to each day and her blog gives her (and me) plenty to ponder about what's left as we each deal with our own individual ARCs.

My biggest fear is losing my eyesight. I realize that it would be harder to lose my sight than just about anything else. Dealing with AMD (age-related macular degeneration) has given me more appreciation for my ability to continue to see well enough to read as much as I want, drive, walk to the bus, perform my yoga routine, or head out on the trails with friends. Of course, anyone who has AMD knows that it doesn't lead to complete blindness, but takes little bits of sight away as it progresses. I have lost much of my ability to see details with each eye, but for now, one eye takes over for the other, and my central vision is unaffected. That's not exactly true, but it's good enough to do all I require of my eyes. For now.

And I've got so much to be grateful for. The place that we've chosen to retire, Bellingham, is filled with all kinds of activities that people across the aging spectrum can enjoy. Art walks, museums, walking trails, and a great bus system that will allow me to get anywhere around town I wish to visit without using my car. Physical activity is possible with even limited mobility. I watch with interest when someone in a wheelchair waits to board the bus. A ramp is extended, and the driver assists the person onto the bus and folding seats give the chair a place to be secured. Even people with rolling walker seats can ride the bus and are able to get just about anywhere they need with our bus system.

And of course, I've got all those memories that resurface in dreams. Have you ever woken from a dream thinking that it happened? Those kinds of dreams have been coming to me more often lately. Last night I dreamed that I was getting ready to leave a party, and the two people who came with me didn't want to go quite yet. I convinced them that I needed to leave, and then we had to travel through an intricate maze back to the car. I lagged behind as they chatted and I used their voices as a guide. Just as I was beginning to lose my way, I woke up.
Yes, I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world. —Oscar Wilde
And now I am awake and ready to start another day. My tea is gone, this rather unusual post percolated its way out of my fevered brain and will now enter the world. Sometimes I wake up with a sure idea of what I will write, but as you can see, this was not one of them. I hope that the coming week will bring you much joy and happiness, and until we meet again next week, be well.


Rian said...

I LOVE that picture! I hope you have it framed and hanging somewhere in your house. As for the dreams - I think it's wonderful that we can relive/revisit things through our dreams. Seems to me that dreams usually are either reliving a past event, a conglomeration of what ever is going on in our lives (these are usually a jumble that may or may not make sense), or a fear that hides away within us and shows itself in some dream form. You mentioned that your biggest fear is losing your eyesight - and that seems to show in the dream about following your friends by sound of their voices. I have similar dreams where I'm lost and can't find my way back to DH or my family... think this shows my deep seated fear of Alzheimer's - since my mom and 2 aunts succumbed to this insidious illness. But... we are well today, DJan. So we can enjoy the day - and hopefully the week - and whatever else time we have!

gigi-hawaii said...

Your life is definitely different from mine. I read your 2 blogs all the time, and it's time well spent. Have a splendid week, DJan. Blessings!

Linda Reeder said...

My dreams, which are few, are hardly ever pleasant. In my last one I was being hunted by an alligator. I had to get up to shake the dream out of my head. think I have been paying too much attention to the latest escapades of our president.
Happy dreams, Jan.

Frank said...

I think it's great that you were able to make many positive memories that will help sustain you in your old age. Now you can relive and dream about those glory days. I know you must have considered it already but you can go back and do it at least one more time. It is possible. By doing so you might find sky diving is best in the past. It will help you move on. I was married to a career and towards the end was put out to pasture for a while. I decided I had to find something to do in retirement. I discovered surfing the web and found myself interested in hunting, something I hadn't thought about since I was a boy. But that's where I went and that's what I've being doing for the past 20 years. But now I've lost all interest in killing things and found a love for life, all life. I don't even take a gun when I go now except for personal protection. I go just as often but now I go just for my dogs. They will always love it and I love seeing them enjoy themselves. At 71, I wonder how much longer I can go hunting at night. My kind of hunting requires me to go to the dogs who are barking at something up in a tree in the wilderness where there are no paths but dense jungle. So I must be careful and take precautions. I've discovered a love on the bible and Christianity. I can take that to the end and it provides me a great deal of comfort.

William Kendall said...

I'm aware that I dream, but rarely remember anything about them.

Elephant's Child said...

I dream in conversations rather than images, and have often wondered as I awake whether I heard it or dreamed it. And which is true.
Your positive attitude is inspirational - as is your determination to fully live your life. Too many people (myself included some days) settle for an existence instead. Life costs more, hurts more, and is worth immeasurably more.
I hope your week and all the weeks to come is/are wonderful.

Friko said...

Isn’t it strange how we return to places we’ve seen and things we’ve done in our dreams? I don’t do it very often but when I do it is very real while it lasts. I don’t know why it happens, but it can be a great pleasure. More often now I have sad or disturbing dreams, it might be something to do with the darker aspects of previous life sections.

Whatever it is it is good to go forward with courage, as you do. I will have to think to emulate you and your determination to see the positive in life.

Marie Smith said...

I usually don’t remember my dreams which is sad I think. On occasion I remember a flash of something but rarely. No nightmares that way but a whole other experience I have no memory of.

I have issues with my sight now too and it has made it hard to read. I haven’t taken up audio books yet because it would be giving in to the loss of one of my favourite things. Listening to a book is not the same at all. It would also mean giving up book club because it isn’t always possible to get an audio of the books we do. I so enjoy the meetings with the group. So for now, it takes me a month of brief reading stints to read a book.

Have a great week, Jan.

Arkansas Patti said...

How wonderful that you can not only relive your diving days but can actually feel your knees in the breeze.
I have similar dreams and some how I am strong and sure in them. I run with ease and swim effortlessly. We are so blessed to have these vivid dreams.

Red said...

Teachers have what is known as teacher dreams. and yes these are very vivid. Since I've been retired for 22 years I seldom have a teacher dream anymore.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Dreams can be good substitutions for the real thing:)

Rita said...

Losing my sight is a real fear, but losing my marbles is a bigger one. With my body going to hell early I figure I might be safe on the losing my mind since it seems like the people with the functional bodies tend to be the ones who lose their memories and the ones with the failing bodies usually have most of their faculties. I've always wondered why that seems to be what I've seen and heard all my life. Maybe my marbles are safer in this disintegrating body--LOL! I sure love your Sunday posts. They always make me think. And what a great photo of you!! Have a super week!! :)

Glenda Beall said...

Lately I am having dreams I remember. I think it is because I discontinued a night time mediation. I love the photo of you looking so happy and so strong.
I am having to accept this thing called ageing and all the aches and pains that seem determined to interfere with traveling, with walking and enjoying life. I rent an electric mobile scooter when I go to a new city and it gives me such independence. I am thinking about buying one of my own. I celebrate another birthday this week and I am having difficulty accepting this one. But, I am vowing to spend my time finding the best ways to make my life better and to continue to enjoy what I like as much as I can.
I was shocked to see how many of your posts I had not read, so I caught up. Life can get so, so busy.

Barbara Torris said...

Be not afraid...well you know the rest. You are doing great! I visit the Engaging with Age blog you spoke about. Thank you for that gift. She is a remarkable mind don't you think?

Be well!


Galen Pearl said...

Once again we are in sync as I just wrote about releasing what is no longer ours. I swear, I wonder if you and I have some cosmic link or if it's just astrological alignments affecting all of us in similar ways. Anyway, that is an interesting reflection on the part skydiving played in your life and whether it is something you could revisit in the present time. As always, love to catch up with you every week.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Ah yes dreams are such interesting experiences for many , myself included. I went to your friends post. It is on Wordpress so requires me to log in there to comment. She is very interesting. MD is only one of our age related vision issues Catarcts is another and then there is retinal detatchment which I experienced in my left eye and it is now a legally bling due. But like goes on. Diane for some reasons I am not able to comment on your other blog again . No idea why it happens on some blogs and not others. Goggle claims the posters cookie setting on their device may be the reason yet both are your posts likely on the same device.? Have another super week. And many more sweet dreams too.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

I have had an adventuresome life and enjoyed many experiences. Skydiving has not been one of them, and at this stage I am quite sure it is not going to happen. Bravo to you for doing it again. As for your dreams they are probably unfathomable to most of us. I have dreams more frequently now than I ever did, or perhaps I just remember more of them. I know that I can have people from different phases of my life, who never met, all together in the same dream, and it makes perfect sense.