I am aware that what I'm about to write is a long-ish, roundabout way of getting to my point today, but I think it is relevant. If it's not, I'm sure you will let me know.
“...there you are, up and down ladders and schlepping boxes,” she wrote, “and I remember your post when you moved in and all that work was overwhelming and exhausting and you were bummed. Seriously bummed. And today you write about it in a matter of fact way.”
That observation got me to sit up and pay attention. Ashleigh is absolutely correct. For years, I have repeatedly bitched on this blog and elsewhere in life that one of the most irritating things for me about getting old is that I tire more easily and can't get as much done as quickly as when I was younger.
But in that post, as Ashleigh pointed out, I wrote about tiredness after more-than-usual physical activity without annoyance and discontent, instead portraying it as a given, as an accepted part of where I am in life right now. Which is what I felt as I wrote it.
So I emailed Ashleigh to thank her for remarking on a change in myself I had not yet consciously noticed:
”How nice of you to point that out,” said I. “It's the best kind of life learning, isn't it - realizing you've come to something new in your own time as the necessity presents itself. Now that you've put it into words, it feels familiar and I have done it in other ways in the past unrelated to aging.”
Once again, in response, Ashleigh mined a thought I'd knocked off without giving it the weight it deserves:
”...come to something new in your own time as the necessity presents itself. Three pieces there ring true - something new, in your own time, as necessity presents. Getting my head around it isn't easy, but necessity presents itself and so I go on.
“Because, honestly, what's the alternative? Lying in bed with a blanket pulled over your head? Not for us, we Jewish girls from NY - no f'ing way!”
Ha! For decades in New York City there were big poster ads in the subway and on bus shelters for Levy's bread. They changed every couple of months and each succeeding one showed a person of different ethnicity or nationality with the line, “You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's.”
Ashleigh is right (again) about us Jewish girls from New York but I think it probably applies to old people anywhere, too – eventually acknowledging the changes that come with age as we need to do, to get on with what's next.
Which finally brings me to my point today. Another recent post about making peace with death and a book giveaway on that topic drew a large number of thoughtful comments about facing the inevitability of our own demise. Here is a handful of the wide variety of perspectives:
"Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment." - Dag Hammarskjöld
I hate the topic but I know I have to deal with it.
As I viewed the video I got choked up and tears started. That is my usual approach to this topic. I think I need the book so that I can, at least, be calm as the end approaches.
He who is not ready to die cannot fully live. As a culture we have this taboo - as if we mention death the Grim Reaper will swoop in. I had to face my own mortality at 27, with two small children at home. It gave the rest of my life a different perspective.
Aging has a way of changing the things that are important to you each and every day.
We go through the largest part of our lives mostly ignoring the fact of our future deaths which is as it should be, I think. As the date gets closer, however, it needs to be addressed and, in time, accepted.
But as much as we yearn for acceptance and would like to “be calm as the end approaches,” thinking the thought doesn't make it so. What I believe can happen, however, is a lot like what Ashleigh pointed out to me about acceptance of my waning energy and stamina.
If, as we get on each day living in the present, we spend some time seriously thinking about it; if we talk about it now and then – here, perhaps, and with friends and relatives; if we seek out and read what others have written about it; if we ponder it quietly from time to time -
Then one day we will realize it has come to pass that we understand; that leaving this world is the completion of the circle of life and that we will welcome it, in its time, as the next great adventure.
And we will realize then, too, that we will have arrived at our equanimity each in our own time as necessity presents itself.
At least, that's how I hope it happens.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, from William Weatherstone: What Do You Do When You Find You're Losing It