Thursday, September 26, 2013

There He Goes Again Talking About Being Old

There are many moments (and longer) when I get lost in trying to understand the idea of aging. Recently I realized an error in my contemplation. Aging may have been an idea at fifty, but with seventy growing closer it’s not an abstraction anymore. I remember much of the past fondly and too often feel inadequate to confront the future. The idea is never unique, but the reality is. No matter how many people are around us we still face everything alone by applying whatever principles or beliefs we have chosen to cultivate. With good fortune and productive thoughts we can find our best way for getting through all of the todays that’re still allotted for us.

Betrayal by my body is the most overtly disconcerting thing. Checking the plumbing under the kitchen sink is never a preferred activity but I’m certain that twenty years ago I didn’t have as much discomfort at every point of contact with the floor nor did I feel the need to grasp the edge of the sink when I went through the process of standing. I don’t remember it being a process, either. No matter how much and how often I lament getting old, today and all future todays belong to me. How I use or lose them is my choice.

When I was still an internal combustion gearhead I subscribed to the theory that when the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the vehicle it’s about time to replace the vehicle. Were it not for the VA allowing me to join the aging mass that they serve I would have reached a value versus function cusp long ago.

  1. Dupuytren's contracture (fixed flexion contracture) less than 10 degrees
  2. Trigger finger (stenosing tenosynovitis)
  3. Degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis of knees and big toes)
  4. Cataracts (repaired)
  5. Retinal detachment (repaired to 20/25)
  6. Open Reduction Internal Fixation (ORIF) of right femur with four titanium rods.

There are a multitude of reasons to lament the passage of time and its inevitable toll, but none matter much to those still viewing aging as an idea. As with all of life, it is whatever you choose to make of it. We’re the sum of the decisions we make and if decisions are truly based on our values, then we’ve had plenty of time to settle on what they are. Values, unfortunately, can be positive, negative or a bit of each. Resentment and frustration can strengthen what drags us down. OK, maybe I shouldn’t be so global, but it’s true for me.

Resentment lasts until I acknowledge, again, that the only thing limiting me is me. So, I intentionally get on the floor and get up again and I do squats until the grating and squeaking of my knees makes me cringe. Generally, when life sucks, I do things and what I do most is ride my bike. Being physically active doesn’t cure aging, but the sense of independence and physical competence accompanying every ride lifts sagging spirits like little else. I don’t have to “just do it”. Just doing is fine.

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