Moving Through the Ages

Blog Post PhotoOn New Year’s Day I found myself in a hospital emergency room because of a severe and unexpected asthma attack. Couldn’t find my keys. Didn’t feed my cat. Didn’t even put on socks (and it was freezing) because I had not a minute to spare. I left my home in a hurry. I fled (as best I could, given the amount of oxygen available to me). I figured I’d return home in 4 or 5 hours. Wrong. It was more like 6 days.

I hadn’t been hospitalized for asthma since my very first attack 32 years ago, and on previous visits to the ER, I had been treated and released and back to normal in a day or two. During the first three days of this stint. I was concerned because I wasn’t recovering as quickly as I was used to. My lungs were slower to clear. My oxygen levels were unstable. There was conversation about living wills and the dreaded possibility of intubation, which, while life-saving, is associated with a mortality rate of 10 to 13 percent. I had nothing but my Reiki hands and Buddhist practice to get me through the crisis and back to my apartment.

And then I remembered: I was no longer 33 but 65, and at this age bouncing back takes longer, I’m learning.

30-something me.

30-something me.

I had been feeling 40 for the longest, but between 2008 and 2013, something changed. I shifted mentally and emotionally and the 40s-feeling became the 60s-feeling, leapfrogging over the 50s-feeling. Between those years I was an unemployed person, an older unemployed person whose credentials and qualifications and skills seemed to be side notes. One recruiter suggested that I dye my hair. Another sighed while reading my resume during an interview and said, “When did we get so old.” I was overwhelmed by articles about and advice for older workers. Age discrimination, which had been only a theory became a reality and with that came thoughts of social security, Medicare. Between those years I couldn’t say with certainty what was going to happen to me, how I would take care of myself. I took a day at a time and thought a lot about age and aging and struggled to arm myself against stereotypes and the seeds that society plants. I was determined to plant my own seeds and nurture my own garden.

60-something me.

60-something me.

Do I have any theories on or advice about aging? No. I have observations. I can say that aging is better than the alternative. I can say that living long brings the gift of experience and, yes to be cliché, wisdom. I can say that I have fewer inhibitions and self-consciousness. I can say that I know my place in the universe and my relationship to the planet and its inhabitants. I can say that health and good friends and humor are important. I can say that I trust my intuition as much as I trust my intellect. I can say that listening carefully brings its own education. I can say that making and resting on assumptions can be detrimental. I can say that 60+ is not the new 40+. It simply is what it is, and that varies from person to person. I believe that the perception of time is relative to, among several things, age. It’s true: Time is moving with greater speed and I seem to be sprinting through the months, the years. I don’t run for buses and trains – what’s the rush! I can say that stability is an illusion because nothing is unchanging — everything is in a state of flux. I’ve found my soul work and I’ve come to know the value of service to others. Thirty years ago I was all about service to myself. I have watched – at long distance – with wonder and nostalgia my niece and nephew move from infancy into teenage-hood. My sister is 14 younger than I am, and now we’ve arrived at a place where we can have open and honest conversations because the little sister-big sister dichotomy has faded. We are simply sisters of a certain age, looking good, meeting challenges, and with our brother (11 years younger than I am), laughing a lot and still looking forward to life with all its changes, surprises and gifts.

time

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/weekly-writing-challenge-golden-years/

Writing Challenge: No Water on Hillsides For My Red Rubber Boots

Daily Prompt: Free Association

Write down the first words that comes to mind when we say . . .

. . . home.

. . . soil.

. . . rain.

Use those words in the title of your post.

Home = Water. Soil = Hillsides. Rain = Red Rubber Boots.

ornabarorgDrought 1There hasn’t been water for days. No rain. No sweat.

Not even a single solitary salty teardrop.

The landscape is coughing. Wheezing.

The river a mile away — dust at its mouth.

Hillsides like old corpses. Rotting. Collapsing.

Victimized by winds and gales.

Last week they rose above the rooftops; today they are the height of my rubber boots.

My brand new red rubber boots. The ones I wear when I dance for rain.

I am tired now. Who will dance for water? Continue reading

Daily Post Prompt: Stroke of Midnight

Where were you last night when 2012 turned into 2013? Is that where you’d wanted to be?

I started out with a task that I’d set for myself: to organize my four email accounts, which meant deleting both the read and the irrelevant and then saving many to file folders – 4,000+!

email prompt

Without realizing that it was so close to midnight, I took a break, went outside to the porch, and called my sister. We talked, with her daughter in the background laughing, and I told her the story of how I drove to Times Square in the early ‘70s, with 3 friends, on New Year’s Eve, when I was a relatively new New Yorker. What a crazy decision, to drive. One of my friends was wearing a cheap rabbit jacket, so not only did we have to contend with car and pedestrian traffic, but also with rabbit fur taking over the space of my small Toyota. In our eyes and noses! Continue reading