There are so many ways to age. I had no idea of course, when waking hours were filled with occupation and everything else was crammed into living and getting through. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”*
And then, when I knew I was tiring, the gears got switched and I was into something else, this territory of Eldering. By this time I had noticed the creaky limbs and sometimes nodding off at the oddest of times and that my energy level from the gogogo years had somehow gonegonegone. I started to worry about the occasional blank word or name that couldn’t be found in my memory bank and in the morning mirror I saw a face that only vaguely resembled the one I expected to be looking back at me.
There was the painful first use of a “senior discount”. More painful still was (is) being talked down to as my grey head acts as a beacon yelling “Old person here!” despite my internal views to the contrary. Physicians, grocery checkout clerks, waitpersons have all had previously negative experiences with the likes of me, even if it wasn’t actually ME.
I have begun to understand old age “cranky”: the joints that zing unexpectedly, the-way-too-inconvenient searches for a bathroom away from the house, and impatience with the lack of being heard or seen, but those are trifles next to the loss of friends and companions.
What I didn’t suspect was the treasure that lay in the midst of these challenges. A great opening, an expansive freeing spirit from so many things I believed were “me”. Kindness, compassion, patience suddenly began to appear at the oddest times, filling the moments. Conscious awareness found room to show up occasionally and the picture began getting bigger, a panoramic effect allowing a deeper, longer breath. While I cannot move as fast as I once did, slow movement allows opportunities for taking in what lies around me.
We won’t all age the same way and a number of us won’t get to age at all but tucked under a slew of stereotypes are ways of seeing and knowing I hadn’t imagined. Just wait, you’ll see.
*John Lennon. “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”.