Aging Has Caught Up with Me
The challenges are only going to get bigger
As my birthdays ticked by, I decided my goal was to “age gracefully.” Little did I know how hard it would be to achieve that goal.
Years ago, my best friend, Helen, was twenty years older than I, and when she retired at 60, I noticed that she slowed down a lot. I was also mystified when she rued her lack of discipline. What on earth did she mean?
As my mother aged, she seemed to become happier. The straight line of her thinning lips took a decided upturn, and her eyes became livelier. She was an active member of her small church, and she cooked their Sabbath meal every week even when she was well into her eighties. Mom, too, became slower, and she rarely complained despite more than her share of aches and pains. Her faith strengthened her.
Today, I find myself becoming ever slower in my movements, and as much as I try to be accepting, I am not. And I have finally cleared up the mystery of what Helen meant by her lack of discipline. I am often disorganized and distracted, and I find it very difficult to be disciplined about tackling daily routines, much less any project. Yet, if I am to age gracefully, I must accept these natural aging challenges and create new ways to compensate for my slowing down and being scattered.
Fortunately, there are many places to find helpful ideas to explore for some that might work for me.
My best counter to slowing down is to become more physically active. I have led a sedentary life for far too long, and recent scientific studies scream at me to reform. It takes baby steps, but it is doable.
As for becoming less scattered, there is a wealth of information on decluttering, and I have learned that clutter and what I call “too-muchness” are the unpleasant roots of distraction. I mourn the loss of many of my favorite activities and interests. Although I toss them to the winds, my heart holds dear so many cherished experiences with photography, travels, book clubs, and more.
Another aspect of improving discipline is finding energizing motivation. Paradoxically, that means exploring new interests, learning new skills, meeting new people, enriching existing friendships. With my wide-ranging interests, the list is endless. More “too-muchness.” My solution to that problem is to be very selective.
As challenging as it is for me to compensate for declining physical and mental skills, I fear that more significant challenges lie ahead. I doubt that I will have the reserves of character that Helen and my mother exhibited so well. Nevertheless, I hope to learn to meet the tests that come gracefully.