GUYSIDE TAKEOVER: finding “aging” inside “changing”

Posted by on Jul 21, 2014 in aging, Guyside | 1 comment

FlashFree is all male this week! While Liz takes some time to enjoy herself, we’re going all-Guyside all the time. I hope regular readers can withstand the onslaught of testosterone. I promise not to post about cars and sports. Too much. — Bob. 

Living a long time is everyone’s goal. And the changes in our aging bodies can creep up on us, the way that you don’t notice a child growing up until he or she goes away for a time and then you look and realize “Wow, you’re six inches taller!”

There’s no doubt that you can do things to minimize the march of time. Some people swear by statin drugs as the magic pill to extend life. Others, like futurist Ray Kurzweil, are gobbling vitamins in large doses to ensure their survival to see the glorious future that awaits us all. Whatever your strategy, I’ve got a couple of ideas about this stuff I want to share.

First: maybe we need to do a personal inventory — physical, spiritual, emotional — at some regular interval. I know that if I were to chart my physical fitness from one year to the next over the last few years I’d see some significant swings, mostly based on how much cycling I’m doing. My emotional fitness too, depending on what things were happening in my life. For example, I’ve no doubt the year my dad died my emotional fitness would have been down. No wonder! For a while (until I emptied the bottle), I had a bottle of single-malt Scotch that only got opened once a year on my birthday. I’d have a birthday dram and scribble a note on the box to say what was happening when I had it. Maybe we should take a little time — on our birthday, perhaps, or New Year’s Day — and assess our selves. What’s changed since the last time? Where are we at in our lives? What would we like to see change over the next 12 months? Write it down, put it somewhere. If nothing else, it might be an interesting experience to read the previous entries.

Second, time is inevitably going to reduce our abilities. 20 years ago, I prided myself on my skills as a glutton. I can remember epic nights with friends where we’d eat countless chicken wings or endless slices of pizza or bottomless hot-fudge sundaes. That doesn’t happen now. I could survive on a couple of hours of sleep if I wanted to and never feel I needed to “catch up.” Not any more. Those are minor changes, compared to some of those I see my mom struggling with, but there’s one important lesson that I’m seeing. Those changes are quicksand, or they’re an undertow in the water. If you fight them, you exhaust yourself. If you remain calm, let them take you, and then gently push against them, you can regain some sense of control.

Third, we need to balance being done for and doing. I might not want to move house myself at this point in my life. My mom, for example, has difficulty with bending over and picking stuff up. It makes her breathing difficult. But she’s having a difficult time stopping herself from doing it. Her motivation is there but she’s unwilling to accept the limitations that her aging body is placing on her. It’s a complicated balance. For a child of a senior, part of you wants to see them taken care of and all their needs met, but I worry there’s a tipping point somewhere where the passion for self-reliance falls away.

And finally, there’s a value in finding and appreciating simple pleasures. A good meal, another person’s touch, sun on your face, a country drive — all of those things give my mom a good feeling. We could all learn a little about simply stopping and letting those things work on us, noticing them, appreciating them.

One Comment

  1. 7-21-2014

    I plan to follow the lead of the women in my yoga class who are 70+ years old (30 years my senior), some of whom are more flexible than I am now!

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