“The curse of mortality. You spend the first portion of your life learning, growing stronger, more capable. And then, through no fault of your own, your body begins to fail. You regress. Strong limbs become feeble, keen senses grow dull, hardy constitutions deteriorate. Beauty withers. Organs quit. You remember yourself in your prime, and wonder where that person went. As your wisdom and experience are peaking, your traitorous body becomes a prison.”
― Brandon Mull, Fablehaven
Turning 65 has put me in a thinking mood.
I’m very grateful to be sitting here talking about getting older. Far too many people never had this opportunity. Today I’m sharing some observations of myself and my behavior.
I love to work in the yard and I love learning how to use my new John Deere tractor. What I’ve yet to fully realized is my body is not as strong as it once was nor is it very forgiving these days. A full day of yard work may make itself known for several days afterwards. My very stubborn mind refuses to recognize this fact. This internal conflict puts additional stress on my rather tenuous sense of humor. Being able to laugh at myself is something I’ve always had to work on. Even with all that awareness on board, I often fail and become that crabby old woman I complained about as a kid. Now–another lesson learned by this life experience–maybe many crabby older people are that way because they are in pain.
“Having buck teeth in junior high,” she rounded up unsteadily, “must
be ideal preparation for getting old. For pretty people, aging is a dumb
shock. It’s like, what’s going on? Why doesn’t anyone smile at me at
checkout anymore? But it won’t be a shock for me. It’ll be, oh that. That
― Lionel Shriver, The Post-Birthday World
As a kid I did not have buck teeth but I was not one of the pretty or cute girls everyone noticed immediately. The only way I eventually got noticed was to speak up–with shy persistence it worked. I’m not sure how long ago it was I noticed I’d become invisible–even with my usual vocalization. It didn’t matter where I was–a grocery store, a retail store, waiting in line at the airport–some kind of magic clock had fallen over me. This meant I had to put my introvert tendencies aside and increase my volume–I had to really speak up. This was a very tough assignment. I don’t know–maybe this is all part of some extra-credit course I’ve been given in that course on self-worth I’ve continued to see on my life studies schedule?
“[she felt] sorry for herself, for getting older, for being mortal, for all the music she still wanted to hear, the books she intended to read, the places she had meant to visit, the things she had promised herself she’d learn one day […] and probably never would because time was beginning to feel like a fast express train that no longer stopped at all the stations.”
― Francesca Marciano, The Other Language
What’s most impressive to me is the fact that time seems to go faster every single day. I think I’ve talked about this before–when you are 20 years old, time goes 20 miles per hour, when your 40, times goes 40 miles per hour, when you 65, time goes 65 miles per hour…this thing called time definitely has my attention and there is no way I’m aware of to slow it down.
“Wisdom is the reward for surviving our own stupidity.”
― Brian Rathbone, Regent
One of the last things I’m sharing today is my tendency to judge other people and their behavior. I certainly have no room to pass any type of judgement. I’ve shared the prayer, An Anonymous Abbess, several times and want to include it today. It has become one of my favorite prayers.
More than ever, I pray for kindness. We are so quick to dislike people who disagree with us–whether it’s what we wear, what we say, what we eat, or where we live–we use our differences as grounds for hatred. I pray we remain open, learning from those we don’t understand, agreeing or respectfully disagreeing and move on in peace.
“Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess:
Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.
Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.
Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.
Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.
I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.
Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.
Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.
― Margot Benary-Isbert
Thank you, Kimberlee Salimeno for letting me use your picture in today’s blog. It is beautiful as are you. I thank and love you.