They say that aging is an attitude of mind. We see grandkids rushing around driving their parents crazy, we see our children finding their way in life as best that they can, we see our siblings starting to dream about retirement and running away from their kids, we see our aging relatives and friends coping with the challenges that aging brings, both financially and health-wise. If we can drag ourselves away from worrying about our own ailments and financial worries we realize just how lucky we are. Like the rest of the aging population, our priority is to simplify our lives. Being concerned and pessimistic about the future is normal?
We are discovering new territory every day as our ability to function as we did, no longer applies. At my age, 75, illness and death are all too familiar. It makes little sense to live in a cloud ignoring the aging process. We have friends and family, who have experienced severe illness and have seen how they handled it. It is naive not to anticipate that bad things will happen to each of us! The one true fact of life is that no one gets out of this world alive. The more we age, the less time we have. So, do you look life in the eye and go for it, or, do you peep around each corner every morning anticipating something terrible is going to happen? We all have different ideas about the perfect life. Some want to travel to exotic places, some want to stay at home. Some want to write the next great novel others to paint a masterpiece. Not me. My wife and I have had the good fortune to retire in good health. Adequate pensions allow us freedom to live comfortably. What brings us the most pleasure? There are still a few things involving travel that we would like to do but, only for visiting family and friends' home and abroad. We live very busy lives just getting to spend time with the people we love. The other thing that makes us feel good is to greet everyone that you meet with a smile and a friendly greeting. Strangers, people that you have seen only occasionally, people who are clearly in need of help. Make the decision to acknowledge them with a smile and hopefully a comment to make them laugh. It costs you nothing, but you have made another human being realize that they are alive and acknowledged. Every time? Of course not, but is that relevant? If you only make one person in ten feel better, it is worth it. I feel blessed by the life I have lived; many people have not had my good fortune. All of us, if we are being honest, can take little credit for the successes that we have had and occasionally, for the disasters. Good fortune has played a part in all of our lives so why not feel sympathy for those who have had less than you?
So, I am 75, am I looking forward to reaching 76? You bet. Every day I learn something new, usually an alternative way of managing some necessary and no longer viable physical activity. If you can look at your latest self as a new challenge, then you will never be bored or lost for something to do. I can never find my reading glasses! I thought that the easy answer was to buy enough pairs so that I could have a pair in each level of the house. Problem solved? Of course not! To make that work you need to remember to take them off when you are leaving the area where you keep them, putting them in an allocated spot. Two problems, first you forget that you have them on and leave the area where they should have been left, and when you notice your mistake, you have forgotten which spot it was! I see the whole process as a good excuse for some extra exercise. I want to see, smell, hear as many of life's blessings as I can, while I can. I want to feel the blessing of life for as long as I can. Yes, I am looking forward to 76.
Roy Houston is a member of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center's Jottings group.
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