My book group met yesterday. We've been meeting for 27 years. All the "children" are now grown; all parents have passed. We figured we are good for another twenty years of ease before health issues make an impact, but yesterday I was in my brace, walking carefully and mindfully. I used a cane to get down the stairs. Another woman was in a boot, and a third is dealing with pain in her hands. I stop there, because this business of living can bring us to laughter and sometimes tears.
We try so hard and we try not to try. We work on "perfection" even as we devour Brene Brown, and her mantra of vulnerability and letting perfection go.
I think aging allows us to laugh more and more because we are caught so clearly on the wings of the fragility of life. We can set goals, yes, and make effort, but ultimately so much is out of our hands. I sit here now, simply receiving, immersed in the grace, love, and joy of it all.
Pain is tough. I've been reading about how it affects our ability to use language. I think we retreat into survival mode and a need for isolation to rest and heal. And then one day the pain ends, at least for me, not for all.
Mind is beginning to return, at least as much as it does at this age. I am aware of each step, but it isn't really pain I feel at this point, but more awareness of what the foot can currently do. I am sensing my way, careful not to overdo. That's why one woman is back in a boot. She played tennis through pain. Young people may get away with that. As we mature, we don't. We are meant to listen more and more to what our body is saying, to take in more clearly the notes of the songs of the birds, and the scent of flowers, and the stirring of air. I think of those who have lost a sense or two, are blind and or deaf. Their other senses kick in to augment and offer a different way to partake of life.
Is aging a new sense, a new sense of vulnerability and, in that, a developing value of each step, each breath? We can't take anything for granted. I look around differently now. I "own" nothing, not even my sense of self. Either I, or someone else, begins to give away and dismantle what is here, leaving just enough perhaps, some piece that ties me to the past even as it sails me into a future unknown. I suppose it is to know the mast, the continuity of the mast, as the wind moves through the sails.
In this moment, my greatest fear is a stroke or Alzheimer's. I fear the lack of control, the loss of what I perceive as "me", yet Ram Das has written of how his stroke opened him fully to the beauty and majesty of life. Surrender can be a good thing.
My brother-in-law had Alzheimer's and settled into the sweetness of a child. We visited him at a facility outside San Diego. The place was small with access to lovely outdoor gardens and I felt I was among the angels. One woman took my hand and traced patterns in the table. We shared the sacredness of presence, touch and connection. The moment is still a harvest in my heart.
I sit here now, inhale fully. I love inhaling. Sometimes I fear a big exhale. Will breath come again? Will there be enough? Can I trust that yes, it is about breath, or so it seems, and yet I am being breathed in more ways than I perceive? Can I trust that all is movement and process? There is no stop. I'm living on a continuum, elastic in expanse.
I look up now and see through the oak tree, and the redwood tree, to a plum tree beyond. Red plums hang, or rather seem to perch. It's June and fruit is ripe on the trees. Fruit ripens in me.
A beautiful June 10th day to all! I am grateful for life, breath, and moments without pain, even though pain is a wonderful reminder to live awake.