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, May 2, 2021

Quality versus quantity

A beautiful bunch of tulips

This picture was taken during my recent visit to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. There were so many beautiful flowers that my eyes felt overwhelmed at times, trying to take it all in. The quality of the display was not lessened by the enormous quantity. Is that true about life in general, I wonder?

I sometimes wake in the middle of the night and think about things, and last night I began to ponder my life in terms of duration. When I was a young woman, I would often think about what I wanted to accomplish, not in my entire life, but in that moment in time, where I was headed. I could no more imagine my life today than I could fly, but I sure thought I was more in control of the trajectory of my life than I was. Now here I am, creature of habit that I am, sitting in the dark with my laptop lighting up my face as I begin to create my Sunday morning meditation.

Now that I am in the end stages of life's journey, meaning that I am not only retired from my profession, I am also looking at a body that is moving out of the decade of its seventies and looking ahead at eighty. It is not the same one I enjoyed in my twenties, or thirties, or even sixties. I look over at my dear partner, sleeping quietly next to me, and I realize that, even though we met in our fifties, we have been together almost three decades. We've been through plenty of adventures and trials during that time, and I cannot imagine my life without him by my side. I hope we'll be here together for a long time to come, but who knows? We had a scare last August when he had a stroke and although he has recovered to a semblance of normalcy, it's a different normal. It has reminded me to be grateful for every single day.

Just as most of my readers can attest, our lives have certainly changed over the past year, during the pandemic that is still killing millions of people worldwide. We in this particular part of the country are faring pretty well, but it's not gone and has the potential to get worse if we relax our pandemic restrictions too quickly. Fortunately for us, we have access to vaccines, and I and most of my closest friends are completely vaccinated. This morning I'll gather with some of them at the coffee shop, where we will sit outside and enjoy each other's company. It is springtime, after all, and today we should have sunny skies and mild temperatures. Not warm by any means, but a nice warm sweater under my jacket will make it perfect, I'm hoping.

I can barely stand to watch the news these days, as I see what is happening in other parts of the world, India in particular. We were in similar straits on the East Coast last spring, but I fear that with all the new variants and poor Indian government management, it will only get worse. And not only in India: I see that there are more Covid infections worldwide right now than ever. As of today, there are 152 million reported cases, with 90 million recovered, and more than 3 million deaths. We here in the United States have the largest number of fatalities, but the rest of the world is catching up, as we have managed to vaccinate around half of our adult population. It's been a horrible year for many of us.

There are so many things I can be grateful for, and probably one I am most thankful for is that vaccine I was able to receive, for free, and after several weeks of anxious and nervous excursions into websites to sign up for a shot, they suddenly became available to anyone around here who wants to receive one. And almost everyone inside the stores I frequent is masked and keeps their distance. Yesterday I saw one woman inside Winco's who was not wearing a mask, but she was the only one. And although we can now walk on the trails outdoors without one, most people around here still wear theirs. I've got mine around my neck, and if someone passes me while they are wearing a mask, I pull mine up out of courtesy.

I am not the only one who has noticed that we had a winter without colds or flu, because of the masks. It's going to be hard to get back to being exposed to those nuisance viruses once again. Maybe I'll just keep one wearing a mask even after we aren't required to any more. But who knows when that will be? We are a long ways from being out of the woods with Covid.

As I lay in bed thinking about things last night, I pondered my wonderful circle of friends and acquaintances. We will be having a gathering of Trailblazers on June 3rd, after our Thursday hike, to enjoy food together again and to celebrate the season. We didn't have any gathering last year, because of the pandemic, and so this means the beginning of coming back together in our new normal. Details are still to be worked out, but it will be at Lake Padden, and a few of our members will be bringing their kayaks so that others can experience that adventure, if they want. Just being together again will be wonderful.

Last week I mentioned that I will be having a tooth extraction on May 13th. I pondered whether or not to get a second opinion, since there is no pain in that molar, but after some research and talking to others who have been through similar experiences, I decided to go ahead and do it. After all, it's not going to heal up by itself, and a 9mm pocket is serious. I found this article, What to Know about Periodontal Pockets, and that was enough to make me just go ahead and do it. So now I am in the process of mourning the loss of the tooth ahead of time. I also learned that seniors over the age of 65 have, on average, only 19 teeth left out of the 32 adult teeth they began with. So I am ahead of the curve by a lot, and I'll just enjoy my remaining healthy teeth. I had my wisdom teeth out long ago and don't remember it being particularly traumatic, but as I said, it was a long time ago.

As I age, I realize how fortunate I have been in my life. Not only do I have reasonable health and the ability to pretty much do all that I want these days, I also have many advantages that many don't have: I have a primary care doctor I like (and see as little as possible), I am able to attend three yoga classes a week through Zoom, get a monthly massage from a practitioner I adore, and receive acupuncture treatments every few weeks. I never thought I would enjoy having needles stuck into my body, but I do. And I always feel much better afterwards. One of these days I'll feel better about going back to the gym, but I'm not yet ready. Plus my favorite class is gone, perhaps forever (hi-lo aerobics). 

When I first began this weekly blog post, in 2009, I could not have imagined that I would still be doing this every Sunday morning. What would I write about? How could anybody be interested in it? At first I agonized over each post, but not any more, now I just take each Sunday as it comes around, and hope for the best. As I've said before, sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn't. For now, I'm glad I have the mental acuity to continue, and I so look forward to the comments from my friends.

A poem from Emily Dickinson has been rolling around in my head for a day or so, and therefore it seems I should share it with you. The entire poem is here, but the part that keeps coming back to me is this:

Elder, Today, a session wiser
And fainter, too, as Wiseness is —
I find myself still softly searching
For my Delinquent Palaces —

And a Suspicion, like a Finger
Touches my Forehead now and then
That I am looking oppositely
For the site of the Kingdom of Heaven —

And with that, dear friends, I will wish you the best of weeks ahead, and that you will please find another to give thanks for all that you have and all that you share with others. The world will be better for our having given each other a sincere wish for happiness. Be well until we meet again.


Linda Reeder said...

It has been to easy for me to become even more self centered in this year of Covid, not so much because of the pandemic, as due to multiple surgeries and recoveries that seem endless and also appear to have greatly impacted my mobility. I mourn for the loss of easy movement. Then I remind myself that it could all be so much worse.
Reaching out to others, sharing kindness, is a way to help yourself too. I am working on that. I am still a work in progress.
Thanks for another good start to my Sunday morning. I'll see you down the trail.

Anvilcloud said...

It is quite a talent that you have to write such a deep yet wide post every Sunday. It would be well beyond me and most.

Marie Smith said...

I always enjoy your morning meditation. Your view of life helps me appreciate where I am in life and how I arrived here. Enjoying everything I can do now, with adaptations I need for my age. Is a priority.

We have had miserable weather with a few nice days every so often. There are windows to be washed and a few other outdoor chores that aren’t getting done because we go on our e-bikes or hike every chance we get. The windows and such can wait.

Have a great week!

Rian said...

First of all, those tulips don't look like tulips. I know there are many kinds, but guess I'm use to the single petal ones.
As for those middle of the night or early morning thoughts - I think we all have them at some time or other. We think of what we thought our lives would be like and compare them to what actually is. On the whole, I am happy with all of it even though it isn't what I pictured when younger. But I feel very lucky that it's been a good life with a wonderful husband, grown children that are good people and have done well for themselves, and adorable grandchildren. We aren't rich (in $$), but we are in many other ways... and we're comfortable enough.
This pandemic is something else. And despite it all (sickness, deaths, quarantines, social distancing, etc.) it's been over a year and amazingly we're still here. But of course it's not over yet... especially not in some countries... so we could yet have a resurgence. We need to continue to be vigilant. Life is precious and that goes for ALL LIFE - and I really believe that most people feel this way.

Boud said...

I often take the same wander around the years and what I've done, especially how differently life happened from what I'd planned. But how fortunate I am, healthy, solvent, with friends and a good son.
I'm several years older than you, and found I got a nice surge of energy on turning 80. I hope you will too.

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you.
It is very early Monday morning here (not yet dawn). I always appreciate your Sunday musings. More than perhaps you realise.
Many, many thanks.

John's Island said...

Hello DJan, A very good Sunday to you. Last Sunday I read Eye early and then got distracted and never got back around to leaving a comment. Wanted to be sure that didn't happen again this week. Today I'm starting from near the end, the poem by Emily Dickinson. "That I am looking oppositely, For the site of the Kingdom of Heaven." When I stop and think about that it hits home. And, it immediately made me think of the book I mentioned (in a comment on your April 4, 2021 Eye) called Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander. If you're looking for a little comfort in our old age thoughts, this is the book to read. Next ... You said, "When I first began this weekly blog post, in 2009, I could not have imagined that I would still be doing this every Sunday morning. What would I write about? How could anybody be interested in it?" I started blogging a couple of years after you in 2011. I now ask myself the same two questions for every single post. Then I remember something else you said, "Not going for brevity, or to satisfy anyone but myself ..." Yes, that's why I blog too, just to record the memories. Well, that brings me back to near the beginning of today's Eye. Referring to the Tulip Festival, you said, "The quality of the display was not lessened by the enormous quantity. Is that true about life in general, I wonder?" What a great question. I will ponder that in the week ahead, and perhaps you will tell us next week if you came up with an answer for that. :-) Thank you for sharing Eye on the Edge with us every week. Wishing you and SG a fine week ahead! John

Arkansas Patti said...

So glad that your area is not throwing caution to the wind with the vaccinations. Don't think we are home free yet. India hurts my heart. My goodness they are suffering. So glad we are helping.
Interesting how you and SG got a rather late start but have managed 3 decades together. The beauty of living long.
Enjoy your get together with the Trailblazers. Know you have missed them.

William Kendall said...

It's true... There was no typical winter cold happening this year.

Gigi said...

DJan - your Sunday posts are a great treat to me. Yes, COVID is far from over until we can somehow reach herd immunity. Sadly, I read in the paper this morning that the demand for them has kind of flat-lined but I am hopeful that with concentrated efforts we may be able to turn that around soon.

"The world will be better for our having given each other a sincere wish for happiness." Truer words have never been spoken.

I wish a joy filled week for you.

ApacheDug said...

Well DJan, I was pretty surprised at your remarking you & SG have been together 3 decades. I know you two met & married in later life, and for some reason it made me think your marriage was around a single decade--not 3! I also appreciated what you wrote of how things have changed as you approach 80, I'm interested in hearing more of life & aging from your perspective. You seem to have so much energy, so many friends it's difficult for me sometimes to see you at your age. I envy you. Well, I'm sorry to hear you're losing that tooth but I'm still amazed it's been just one. I've spent my life brushing twice a day and still lost 8--I can't imagine losing more. Thanks for the thoughtful read, and I hope your week is a good one.

gigi-hawaii said...

I am glad that you are going to a party with your fellow hikers. That will be super nice. Yes, I continue to blog every other day and enjoy it very much.

Betsy said...

Happy Sunday evening. I'm sitting here listening to the thunder roll across the sky as I read your post. I asked myself how my ife is different today than I thought it would be years ago. I never would have imagined we would move halfway across the country and then I couldn't imagine moving back in my sixties. We loved our life in Spokane, but I AM enjoying family here in Nebraska. However the oppressive heat and hummidity have been out of my life for almost 30 years and this is going to definitely take an adjustment. I am so blessed to have a husband that loves me and I adore right back...even after almost 43 years. This has been an odd year for sure. Life is slowly becoming a bit more "normal" if it can be called that. I'm actually going into the store for groceries, (while masking up of course,) instead of doing the pickup orders. Who would have thought that would be a big step?
I hope your breakfast out was good. Take care and have a wonderful week.

Red said...

Here we are still a way behind the curve in our struggle with covid. I hope that you will be successful in starting to get out with people. We don't want to go backwards.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Hi! Hope your morning coffee chat was great! So grateful that you are vaccinated...and that you are enjoying your life! Hi to Smart Guy! :)

Rita said...

So nice to have our weekly chat--LOL! I know I am just listening to your thoughts every Sunday but it always feels like a nice chat about life over a cup of coffee. I look forward to it every week. :)

Jackie said...

May 4, 2021
Stopping by to say hello. It seems like forever since I've been here.
I do love the way you write.
As time marches on, I am thankful for the many blessings the Lord has provided.
I send hugs to you....

Linda Myers said...

I love your Sunday posts!

We are back in Washington for six months and so far I continue to appreciate the green beauty but not the arthritis that bothers me here. My husband Art is temporarily disabled by severe spinal stenosis which will require back surgery this summer. So I'm a caregiver for the time being, not minding it much but exasperated by my own physical limitations. I long for the body of my younger years!

Glenda Beall said...

I always enjoy your posts each week. Like you, I think about what my life has been and appreciate so much the way it has turned out. I had a wonderful, loving and kind husband for 45 years. He was also my best friend and the most fun to hang out with. We had great times together and many laughs. Because of him, I landed here in North Carolina where I found just what I wanted in life and have felt at home from day one.

With age comes aches, pains, and frustration that I can't do all the things I once did, but it keeps my mind busy figuring out new ways to cope. I am so happy SG is recovering as well as he has and I am very glad you have him with you. Have a great week.