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 8, 2023

A little bit of good

Me at Marine Park

It truly is the most beautiful time of the year in this part of the world, right now and right here in Bellingham. Steve took this picture of me when we were walking yesterday, and you can see how brilliantly the October sun is shining, and how much the leaves have turned. It won't last, and soon the weather will turn to wind and rain, but for now, I am doing my best to make the most of it.

I woke Saturday morning and heard the news about the awful attacks by Hamas on Israel. That, combined with what is happening in Ukraine, unrelenting attacks on innocent civilians in a war they desperately didn't want, has caused me deep psychic pain. I cannot see a good outcome for all this tragic killing, and the only thing I can do is turn my attention away, for now, and walk in the beauty that surrounds me everywhere. It helps nobody for me to allow myself to be dragged into anger and indignation. What can I do except take care of myself and my loved ones in my own little corner of the world?

Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. —Desmond Tutu

Yes, that's all I can do, and I will spend my time writing this posting looking for those "little bits of good" that are possible from my perch, here in the darkened room with my sweet partner asleep next to me. There are definitely ways to look at the world that don't require my own personal angst to be triggered. But I need to look up from the news and narrow my focus into my own world. That is not only possible, but today it is required.

On Friday, I had my annual wellness visit with my primary care physician, a lovely woman I got as my PCP last year, after my previous doctor moved back to Canada. I asked her to order some blood tests for me, so I can find out how everything is doing inside my veins and heart. Tomorrow morning, Monday, I'll head to the clinic for the draw. I no longer can walk in first thing when they open, because now you must have an appointment, as well as coming to the realization that I can no longer drive in the dark. Since I need to be fasting, this will be a rather uncomfortable morning for me. But it's necessary, so I figure I can get up and do my exercises and meditation before I leave for an 8:10 appointment across town. So, no coffee shop for me (obviously) and no time to spend with John before my regular yoga class. 

I figure I can stop at the local grocery store that is on the way, after I get my blood drawn and grab a coffee and breakfast before driving to the Senior Center for the class. It sure makes me realize what a creature of habit I am, that such a change will throw my entire morning into flux. But by the time I get to my class, I should be back into my usual routine. I feel very lucky that I still have the ability to drive in familiar surroundings, but my eyesight is not very good anymore. 

It also reminds me that as we age, our faculties begin to break down; it's the normal passage of time and not anything to be alarmed about. My doctor was very pleased to see that my vitals are all good, my blood pressure and weight all the same as last year. And now that I am back doing some hard hikes with my new hiking group, I'm hoping that my good cholesterol will still be high, even maybe a little higher than last year's. But in any event, I am in good physical shape for the moment, and that gives me hopefully another season or two of being out and about. I cannot, however, deny that the person in the picture above is now officially elderly, and that means that high activity can no longer be taken for granted.

I decided to skip last Thursday's hike because it was more demanding that I was comfortable with. Eight people ended up hiking up to the Church Mountain meadows in the High Country, probably the last for the season (although local hikes will continue). I learned that one person had a really hard time on the return trip and had to be helped and supported by the other hikers, in order to reach the cars. He is 83 and just ran out of steam, and his legs buckled under him. After returning home and recovering, he sent around an email explaining that he is now just fine, but he will not be attempting such hard hikes in the future. I worried that such a situation might happen to me, and I really don't want to put my friends through it, all because of not being willing to acknowledge my limitations. My eighty-first birthday is right around the corner.

We are all built differently, but one thing that cannot be denied is that the passage of time changes us all. Every day is precious and cannot be taken for granted. Every wonderful walk in the sunshine, every slog through rain and wind as well, are to be enjoyed for the moments they give us, and as we age we must not pine for what was but enjoy and appreciate what is still within our reach. It is a good lesson for me, and I am glad that I didn't have to be rescued. There are times, when I look back, that I needed help on the trail, and my friends were more than willing to help, but who wants to be in that situation? A wake-up call indeed. Maybe my fellow hiker's situation was my own personal wake-up call.

That said, I had a delightful six-mile walk yesterday with my friend Steve, and I tried out my latest purchase, a new pair of Hoka walking shoes. They are purple! I love the look of them, and you know if you can walk that far in a new pair of shoes without any pain, they are a really good fit. Awhile back I bought another pair, a different brand, but after a few walks in them, I realized that they were trying to break in my feet, rather than the other way around. They will not be given the chance when I've got such good options with these new purple beauties. They are actually kind of lavender, and I catch a little flash of color when I walk in them and glance downwards. 

Today is the last day of such beautiful weather, as we will be returning to rain for the next few days tomorrow afternoon. I'm hoping it holds off until after I've driven to the clinic for my bloodwork, but since it will be light enough outdoors I should be fine. Gone are the days when I felt comfortable driving in the dark and rain, but I can still drive and for that, I am grateful. There will come a time when I will give up that privilege, but not today. I once could run a half-marathon, or jump out of perfectly good airplanes, or ride a bike across the entire country. Not anymore, but gosh do I have a plethora of memories!

So, having reached this place in my morning's journey when I think about what little bit of good I might have found in here. And there it is: joy and happiness for all that I continue to enjoy and appreciate in my daily life. John will come to pick me up in his chariot in about an hour, and before that happens I need to get dressed and go outside onto the dark front porch and do my exercises, then come inside and sit in meditation and watch my breath. It's now one of my favorite times of the day, and I don't miss it if I can help it.

And you, my dear virtual family, will soon be reading this and hopefully thinking about how you might find a little bit of good in your day and share it with others, helping to spread that love and healing our planet with our small little contribution. Until we meet again next week, dear friends, I wish you all good things. Be well.


Anvilcloud said...

You are expecting a weather-change and we are having one. It will be a high of 50 today. I've written a post about our yearly battle of fighting the cold while resisting the urge to engage the furnace. But I don't know when I will post it.

Rita said...

Freeze warnings here. 50s during the day and 30s to low 40s at night. Was just in the 90s a week or so ago. Yes--we can appreciate and be grateful for what goodness and beauty that is there around us. And for new shoes that don't hurt! :)

gigi-hawaii said...

How wonderful to wear purple shoes and experience red leaves in the sunshine. You are indeed blessed.

John's Island said...

This is so perfect, I’ve got to repeat it: “We are all built differently, but one thing that cannot be denied is that the passage of time changes us all. Every day is precious and cannot be taken for granted. Every wonderful walk in the sunshine, every slog through rain and wind as well, are to be enjoyed for the moments they give us, and as we age, we must not pine for what was but enjoy and appreciate what is still within our reach.” This is an excellent example of why I love Eye on the Edge. Your take on things is not to be missed. Thank you DJan. John

Linda Reeder said...

Oh, purple shoes. Maybe that's what I need. I am failing at not pining for what was.
But I am doing stuff. Yesterday we collected all the the glass flowers in the garden and washed them and dried them in the sun. They are on the work bench in the garage ready to be put in the attic. Tom did all of the walking and I did all of the washing, standing at a picnic table with a big galvanized tub. It took two hours.
In the afternoon I roasted plum tomatoes from our garden and made tomato sauce with fresh oregano and basil from or garden. I watched soccer in the evening while Tom and Jill went to the match.
I slept well.
Today I will soon go out and edge the lawn. I hope. I think I can make it. I might need a break or two.
The fog is lingering this morning. Blue sky will appear, I am promised. You are right. There is so much beauty to enjoy. And working in my garden might be hard, but it is also healing.

Marie Smith said...

I love the idea of the purple shoes. We’ve come a long way with sneaker colours!

Emerging myself in nature is one of the things that keeps me going these days. There is so much hurt in the world that we can do nothing about.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I knew you would be sad about the latest news from Israel...poor people that live there.
Purple shoes sound just like you! Happy feet is a good thing! I hope you have a very good week!

Elephant's Child said...

The news is indeed heartbreaking. Again. Still. I ration my exposure to it, and revel in the beauty and kindness around me.
And, as others have said, I love the idea of your purple (and well fitting) shoes. I need some more and will try not to be a stick in the mud about colour. Have a beautiful week dear friend.

Rian said...

Happy to hear that your annual well check went well. Hopefully your bloodwork will confirm this too. My annual well check is due next month (and expecting good results). When my Oncologist used to ask me how I was for my annual checks, I'd always say, "I'm fine... and don't tell me I'm not!"
When it comes to news about war and global unrest, all we can do is take care of our own and pray that good will win in the end. Naive? Maybe, but it works for me.
And I laughed at your purple shoes... I just order a purple jean jacket last week. Don't ask me why. Maybe there's something to that poem, "When I'm old, I shall wear purple."(but NOT the red hat!)
Will close and go look for that little bit of good in my day...

Red said...

Important decisions here. How much can we push things? What is our body telling us? However, I see too many people taking the easy way and sitting in their chair .

Linda Myers said...

I have a pair of Hokas also. At first I thought they looked like clown shoes, but now I'm just grateful for the comfort and support.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

You are right about avoiding what cannot be changed miles away. My own health is finally moving into a positive place after 10 months of very serious mistake made by my surgeon last November. They fourth op in June fixed the issue and after much pain and weird methods to heal my intestines and belly would I can rejoice once again. Buddy is 50 now and amuses me when he claims we are all getting old. He remains very precious. I think of you often and am happy you can still be reached here. My eyes are very poor now so I no longer post but I try to reach out when I am able. Stay well.