Sunday, 5 April 2009


The word is out. Those of us who think we are entering the last stages of our lives may really only be halfway there. Now, unlike the proverbial childhood journey to grandma’s place, “Are we there yet?” the possibility that grandma’s “place” is still a distance away, is awe inspiring. At the same time, it is not without its challenges.

According to the prominent medical voices of the day, keeping old age at a distance is not a passive activity. We need to be active participants in our own lives. But, I wonder, how does that differ from when I was younger? Certainly, throughout my adult life I was always careful about what I would eat, took regular exercise, and was constantly checking calendars to keep track of family schedules. Mind and body were rarely still. The soul wandered hither and yon. I didn’t much pay attention to that element of myself.

Now, in my senior adult years, I begin to dither. “What day is it?” I email someone, waiting for a response. Nothing arrives. I wonder if they are okay? Did they receive my email? Finally I get a response and realize it is only a day later. Time has this funny way of both expanding and compressing at the same time. What is going on here?It is as if the body is going through new calibrations. This internal control system is rebooting itself and saying something like:

Since you have been blessed to live in a safe, healthy country and you have strong genetic components, and you have lived a relatively balanced life up to this point, we will be reassigning you to track three with current extension options for track four. The Manual is still a work in progress, but we have the outline and the index. It looks something like this:

Eat small portions of healthy food at 3-4 hour intervals. Maintain a BMI of 24.
Get regular exercise. EVERY DAY.
Nurture yourself and your relationships with friends and family.
Get 8-9 hours sleep a night.
Laugh, love, hug, dance, sing, play.
Be mindful of the small moments of beauty and grace in your surroundings.
Drink lots of fluids, including red wine on occasion.

The list seems quite manageable to me. Almost too easy. I understand how living life forward is essential to good health. However, there is still trailing behind me the caboose of a life lived unwisely at times. And then I begin to question whether this second half of my life is possibly an opportunity for atonement, not in any religious or mythological way, but rather, as a time for gathering together the strands of my life, and allowing the soul, that has been waiting on the sidelines for so long, to work as a cleansing agent, to help clear away the grief, guilt, and sadness of past events. It is that element of “unconditional love” that we all carry around inside, taking for granted its presence, shoving it away most of the time in those busy early and middle years. But my soul has been patient, and must have known that at some point I would come to recognize its power and energy to revitalize my inner self. Yes, I am a part of all that I have met, done, said. Indeed so are we all. Now, I realize that it is time to sit still and listen to the inner voice of reassurance and renewal and love. It seems as essential as any of the tangible replenishments in a day.
Do you think they will remember to put that longevity feature in the Manual?


Darlene said...

What a beautifully written post. I find much to muse on in your writing.

Although I am well beyond the second half of my life, I do look forward to my remaining time. I am still buying green bananas.

Tessa said...

Who cares if they remember about longevity, Marylou. You have listed all that is needed to make life full of quality. To hell with the quantity ...