Sometimes I prefer carpet to chair. I can still criss-cross-applesauce. I’m a dashboard foot-propper gal. I can bend over, touch fingertips to floor.
But my knees complain on a climb. I move slower. Clutter and chaos confuse me. I tire faster. I fear falling. My bones are soft.
“I don’t want to be like my mom,” I worry to my doctor.
She spent years in front of typewriter or computer and suffered unrelenting pain from compression fractures in her back as well as carpal tunnel syndrome. She confined herself to a wheelchair. And her thyroid was whack. She died at 82, just about a month shy of 83. And was only 20 years older than I am. My son is 23. Time whooshed. Time will whoosh. What can I still pack for the final journey?
“You are not your mother,” he reminds me. Again.
I cling to the reality that my health is better than hers was at my age. That I’m careful, for the most part, to include all important exams on my annual calendar.
But though I’m really good at sitting still to see the Maker’s mark around me, though I’m getting better at reclaiming castaway moments, I’m not so great at the care and feeding of mind and body.
I drink in the beauty of this place where time stands still. A single crepe myrtle bloom greets me on the path, and I’m transported to another place where the trees grew below our bedroom window. I’m surprised to see its flower in the fall. I stroke the bark, and memories run like a river. But I’ve forgotten so much.
Had I turned around, I would have seen the explosion of blooms on the tree behind me.
Years ago we were told not to worry about what my father-in-law didn’t remember because his brain was so stuffed with memories he couldn’t possibly retrieve them all.
“The human brain became the most powerful in the world under conditions where motion was a constant presence. Our brains evolved out of the necessity to think as we move. Physical activity is cognitive candy,” writes John Medina in his book Brain Rules.
And later that evening John asks us, “Is there an independent variable to predict how to age?” And he answers himself. “Yes! The presence or absence of a sedentary lifestyle!”
He goes on to tell us that the people around him who age most beautifully are those who don’t retire, who stay busy, who keep moving.
I wrap these words around me, as warm as a red quilt. My husband doesn’t plan to retire at least until his 70s. And his uncle worked until he died in his 90s.
I don’t want to get old. But I have no control over that.
I do, though, want to age beautifully, gracefully. As much as is in my power to do so. Which means I have to make a more intentional effort to move. To swallow this magic bullet (#10.)
I also posted over at bibledude.net today. It kind of goes along with this. You might enjoy it.