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, February 20, 2022

Back to the future

In the coffee shop, once again

Our friend R.J. took this pensive picture of John, me sitting there with a solved Wordle on my iPad, and an overcast but rain-free environment outside. That's not what we ran into on Saturday: Melanie, Chris and I headed to Lake Padden as a good place to walk in heavy rain. And that's just what we got, all right: lots and lots of it.

In response to the title of last week's post, I received a lovely postcard from a fellow blogger saying that she is needing to find her own "new normal" and actually to write a few notecards to remind herself that something other than our present digital world still exists. It was lovely to receive some "snail mail." 

We are not actually back to any semblance of the world we inhabited before the pandemic hit. Our governor has said that we can stop wearing masks when outdoors now, and on March 21 (given that we don't have another variant surge), we can drop our indoor masks. Frankly, I don't think I'll stop wearing one, it seems a bit premature to me, and anyway I've grown quite accustomed to having my face covered when indoors. I have also found a fairly comfortable N95 that I wear when I'm in crowded or congested areas. Otherwise, I simply wear my old cloth masks with a filter, easy to pull down under my chin (as in the picture) but you are not going to see me in a hurry to lose my mask. I'm too old to catch such viruses and escape unscathed.

Whatever. I certainly understand that people would like to return to the pre-pandemic environment, but I fear that we must learn to navigate a different world, one where opinions about mitigation efforts are either welcomed or disparaged, putting yet another wedge between communities. How can we begin to see that we are all in this together and it doesn't serve anybody's interest to devolve into hatred? I will try to do my part; it's all I have control over. Just myself and my own actions.

Physically, I'm hanging in there. Yesterday we walked a little over five miles in the rain, with a brief respite now and then, but every time the rain lessened, the wind took over. It was not a fun time to be outdoors, but I was simply amazed that there were so many of us diehards outside braving the weather. At least it wasn't really cold, but I guess that's coming in a day or so, a cold snap is on the way as a last gasp of winter before spring arrives. At least I have plenty of rain gear and warm clothes to make myself moderately comfortable so I can continue to enjoy the beautiful Pacific Northwest outdoor experience.

My lower back is not the same as it was before my last bout of pain, but I've learned that when it begins to seize up on me, with the muscles beginning to tighten, I can stop and stretch it with a few cat-cow movements (leaning forward with my hands above my knees, arching and bowing my back). It's rather astounding that this easy stretch makes so much difference: just a minute of doing this and the pain in my back is greatly alleviated. We do this movement from our hands and knees in yoga class; it's even got its own Sanskrit name, chakravakasana. When I first started doing Iyengar yoga a few years ago, I was clueless about the names of the poses, but now I think I know most of them and look forward to hearing my instructor announce what we will do next. I know I really don't need to continue to attend Zoom yoga classes, because I know all the postures pretty well, but I find I really need the feeling of community I get from a class with others like me. And if I don't attend, I tend to let the day get away from me without any yoga at all. 

I've always enjoyed the movies that the title of this post recalls, Back to the Future. The first in the series was released in 1985. That is a long time ago now, almost forty years, but I will always remember how much I enjoyed seeing that movie the first time (out of perhaps half a dozen). Now, I suppose if I wanted to watch it again, it must be available to stream right onto my laptop, but I probably won't, since somehow or other the days don't feel as long to me any more. These days, the idea of "spending time" reminds me that I don't have as much of it to look forward to as I did in 1985. 
Don't worry. As long as you hit that wire with the connecting hook at precisely 88 miles per hour, the instant the lightning strikes the tower... everything will be fine. —Dr. Emmett Brown

 Oh how I wish it were true. Would I go back to 1955 if I could? No, I don't think so. Of course, I would be a teenager without any sense of what the world would bring to me in the future, and thinking back to what it was like when life stretched out into infinity, I would stare into my own eyes and marvel at my naiveté. The trials and tribulations, the incredible joy and sadness of simple living, and the fact that she would become an old woman with a past. How much of a future isn't known, but then again, would I want to know if I could? I don't think so.

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. —William Shakespeare

The one thing I know for absolutely sure is that I am blessed to have traversed those seven ages and grateful that I have lived long enough to become an elder.  A happy elder, one whose days and nights are filled with as much joy as I can cram into them, looking for the silver lining even in tough times, and sharing my life with those of you who have joined me on this magic carpet called LIFE. Awareness of what's to come isn't necessary, because the only thing we are guaranteed is its cessation, sooner or later. When I was young, that scared me, but now its inevitability gives meaning to every moment, every breath, every shared smile.

It is time to finish this post and perform my morning ablutions before John comes to pick me up and take me to our breakfast. We'll be masked until we sit in the cab of his truck to enjoy a fabulous meal in Fairhaven. Maybe one day soon we'll feel like we can venture into indoor restaurants, but not today. Until we meet again next week, dear friends, I wish you all good things and robust good health.


Barbara Rogers said...

It's certainly not what I'd imagined, being an elder. I had thought (maybe in my 20s or 30s) I'd be holding salons in my apartment...meeting lots of talented literary and artsy people...and of course going to many concerts, museums, and plays. I aimed into the direction of a social person with lots of interests. I can read many pieces of literature in my isolation, and converse in zooms if I wish. But the old bod in it's 80th year has told me no for many of the things I thought I would still be able to do. That's ok with me now...part of my quickly passing 70s was accepting things as they came (yes, including the pandemic).
I'm so happy to read about your life and thoughts. They do stimulate me to think deeper often.

Rita said...

I wouldn't want to go back in time. It was hard work getting to where I am today--LOL! But I treasure the journey--every bit of it.
I hope you had a nice breakfast. Love the pic with you and John. Have a fantastic week. Stay warm! :)

Marie Smith said...

Here we are, adapting in our senior years. When we stop adapting, that will mean trouble, I fear, have a wonderful week!

Arkansas Patti said...

Me too not wanting to go back though having that young body does hold some lure.
That cat-cow move sounds interesting and effective. Could be useful for a lot of ailments in the back. Thanks.

Galen Pearl said...

I think I was always meant to be an elder. There is no age I would go back to. I have grown more content and comfortable with myself as I have gotten older. However, I don't know anyone embracing the journey as you have! I love being outside, but you are of much hardier stock than I -- I no longer want to be cold and wet for any length of time. Some of my martial arts buddies will practice outside year round. Not me -- I have to find a dry, warm indoor space in the winter. So you continue to amaze me.

John's Island said...

Thanks for another interesting post. You seem so “philosophical” lately. Let me quote, “A happy elder, one whose days and nights are filled with as much joy as I can cram into them, looking for the silver lining even in tough times, and sharing my life with those of you who have joined me on this magic carpet called LIFE.” That, and the next sentence, made me wonder if Oprah, in her book, What I Know For Sure, included … The only thing we are guaranteed [in life] is its cessation, sooner or later. DJan, I wish I could come up with stuff like that! :-) Starting today I’m thinking of Blogger as part of a magic carpet! :-) I admire Bellingham John being able to enjoy an hour or two with you on Sunday mornings over a cup (or two) of coffee. I like seeing Wordle on your device on the day when AROMA was the winner. Lastly, thanks for the info on the Cat Cow stretch. Since I also deal with a bit of low back pain I looked it up on YouTube and found an excellent short video …


Rian said...

DJan, my new normal will definitely be different from my old normal... too much has happened that has awakened my awareness. And I don't need any official to tell me when I can wear or not wear a mask. I will continue to wear mine around crowds and during flu season, etc. It has proved to be an asset health-wise for me... and no make-up necessary anymore! (I've always disliked make-up)
Love the coffee shop pic! I really miss meeting friends for coffee. And as for Wordle, DH and I have been playing it too. Wishing you a wonderful Sunday!
I made the boys a buttermilk pie today!:)

Linda Reeder said...

It's Sunday afternoon now. The sun is streaming through my family room window and I am ensconced in my recliner with a view ouT into the garden. I am content to be grounded for now, I find I am tiring very easily, and I am still overcoming the emotions of my health adventure. Tom is just returning from the grocery store where he is taking over some of my duties for a while. I'll get up and help.
Thanks for another good Sunday post.

Gigi said...

I fear that the "old normal" is gone and we will just have to forge ahead and see what comes. I saw a Tweet the other day where it was opined that the message of "restrictions" was - in part - what caused the whole divide. I wish I could remember the exact phrasing (but I neglected to bookmark it) - but essentially it said that had the message been framed in a more positive light people may have reacted differently. Food for thought for the next time, I suppose.

To go back to my teenage years? Absolutely not! I'm pretty happy with where I am right now.

Have a wonderful week!

William Kendall said...

I expect to be wearing masks for some time to come.

Red said...

Stretching hamstrings really help my back. I stretch on a regular basis and have avoided periods with severe back pain. Would I like to go back in time? I don't think so unless I was promised that I wouldn't be a goof. I wouldn't want to go through the young male invincible stage again.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Nice to see a photo of you and John! Your rain must be our snow:) Hope you have a good week!

Anvilcloud said...

Back to the Future was such a fun movie. What isn’t fun here right now is February weather. At least the stupid truckers are gone along with their hot tubs and bouncy castles.

gigi-hawaii said...

That's a very nice photo of you and John. As for the masks, it is still mandated here in Hawaii. I am like you: I'll always wear one no matter what.

Linda Myers said...

I wouldn't want to go back in time except for one decision I made that I would make differently, knowing what I know now. When I was a mom with two little kids, living in Oregon, I was asked to run for the state legislature. I said no, I wasn't political, and they said they'd teach me everything I needed to know. Now, I'd say yes. If I won, I'd run for one term and vote what I thought was right, unbound by financial donors.

Otherwise, I'm way more content now than I was.

Betsy said...

I see the snow is falling heavily in Spokane according to texts and messages from friends there. We had gorgeously beautiful 65F yesterday. Driving down the streets you could see people out chatting on the sidewalks and having barbeques in their backyards. It was like spring had arrived. Tonight is supposed to be -1F !!!! What a change. The wind just started blowing and it's getting very chilly.
I have a difficult time wearing a mask in any sort of activity. I suspect it may have something to do with my heart issues and breathing difficulties. I do have a pacemaker and ever since I got it in 2015 I get winded easily.
Take care and stay warm this week.

Tabor said...

Today Russia invaded Ukraine. We are now at the doorstep of WWIII and we have not closed the door on the pandemic! I am not sure we can survive much more without the acceptance that life goes on. Death goes on. We certainly have no control.