I use the word “greet” with purposeful intent versus applying terms such as “fighting, tackling or confronting aging”. I’ve also decided to take the phrase “anti-aging” out of my vocabulary. I know where my bread is buttered and who has the upper hand here, and it is not MOI. The one who holds the advantage is that all powerful force called aging, and no one escapes it. I have too much respect for the aging process, and so I tread carefully. I greet her with a smile and prayerful hands, utilizing courtesy and a humble approach as if that might sway my friend — whom I now consecrate with the title Angel Of Aging.
She visits me every night and morning, never letting me forget that she is close at hand and reminding me that when the day is over, it is gone, consumed in a puff of smoke, never to return. And when I wake, I feel fortunate to be gifted with another day and I am counseled inwardly to not waste it, because it, too, is going to zoom by, no doubt faster than the previous day. It must be a new law of physics known to many but not formally recognized in scientific manuals and it is this very obvious fact of life: the older one is, the faster the days and years whizz by. Time actually speeds up – at least that is how it appears to me.
I am deferential with her, because who wants to have the Angel Of Aging as an enemy – certainly not me! I have polite conversations and I let her know that I am trying my best to be the best person I can be, to respect the temple of my body and brain, taking care to not abuse them; so, I ask her to go a bit easy on me, and to please go easy on those I love, as a matter of fact. I apply the wisdom of accepting the things I can not change (pretty much the entire world and everyone in it) and changing the things I can (myself). This gives me a much needed injection of serenity and does wonders for peace of mind – a most crucial ingredient for balanced, happy and healthy living. If I play my cards right, the Angel has the power to bestow remarkable gifts such as wisdom, mellowness and inner equanimity, and that suits me just fine!
I struck up a conversation recently with a man at a desert golf range who was chipping in his bare feet. He had grown up in Southern California and walked all his life barefoot on beaches and everywhere he could. He had the callouses to prove it. I commented that I heard it was really good to walk barefoot and absorb the healing energies of the earth and I ended with the proclamation that he might live to be 120. He said “Woah, I don’t want to live that long!” Along these same lines, I shared a new morning routine with a gym friend that I do nutrition wise (see below for the secret ingredient). It turns out she is doing a very similar thing and we marveled at the synchronicity. She remarked, “We are going to live to be 200” and I wanted to respond (like the man at the golf range), “woah… not so fast!” Although I love and seize life, I’m not sure I want to live to be 120 or 200 either!
Of course, many of us (if not most of us) silently or not so silently wish that aging did not come with so many ill side effects. As a former business colleague intoned, “the golden years ain’t so golden!” Many of us do our darnedest to thwart aging (I will add the word “thwart” to the list of words I will not use vis-a-vis the Angel, ha ha) and despite our best efforts, we inevitably reach a point where we hear the body creaking and cracking, new aches appear daily and we can’t get up as quickly as we used to! I did not acutely feel the vicissitudes of aging until I reached my sixth decade, and then reality smacked me in the face. In my case, arthritis erupted from out of the blue and caught me by surprise. My Father quit golf at the age of 78 because of painful arthritis. Knowing this, my husband recently came home happy to announce that he had stumbled upon a new recipe to treat arthritis. He had been chatting it up with a stranger while they both waited at a tire center. The conversation moved in the direction of golf and arthritis (these are the topics of discussion, naturally, for retirees in the California desert! 😂). The stranger revealed that thanks to a miracle concoction, his arthritis had been arrested and he was back to playing golf again! Of course, my follow-up question was, “What is this miracle cure?” My husband replied with all seriousness, “It’s called terminex.”
I gently informed him that what he thought was a cure for arthritis was actually a poison!🤣 Thank goodness for web search engines, because I plugged in “miracle drink for arthritis” and I had to do it a couple of times to get any kind of hit that might resemble the word terminex! And voila, it finally popped up: Turmeric! I showed my husband the discovery, and he said, quite proudly, that’s it!
So I’ve been making a turmeric based drink each morning and I have to say that the pain in my hands has lessened. I use organic powdered turmeric and pair it with orange juice, coconut water, liquid organic ginger, cherry juice concentrate for a light libation (the bitterness of turmeric needs to be offset by ginger, cherry or honey); and if I want more of a meal, I add other ingredients that strike my fancy: collagen protein, blueberries, spinach, amazing greens, and a dab of organic coconut oil… and I am ready to take on the world.
I eat my wild salmon, almonds, walnuts, grass-fed butter, olive oil, dark leafy greens, fruits and vegetables, drink water laced with sliced lemons and limes and then I cross my fingers big time! For nothing is guaranteed, as we know. I am personally not an angel so I have lots of cheat days! Despite a very healthy diet and lifestyle, my beloved Father succumbed to cancer. And then there is the lady I know who has done “everything wrong” according to the experts: worry, drink alcohol in excess, obsess and stress. And yet she has been most fortunate to reach her late 80s! Despite this exception, it is my guess that a serene mental landscape can be a helpful factor in living a long and healthy life. I wasn’t always so good at maintaining a steady, unruffled and quiet mind, one devoid of worry, angst, mania, or chatter. But as I’ve gotten older, I try to not sweat the small stuff and I ask, “How important is it?” If I stop to pause, I realize that much of it is stuff that can be ignored, discarded, set aside. My kids may attest to the fact that I struggle some days to maintain a semblance of serenity (that ol’ Irish temperament likes to blow off steam from time to time, hee hee), but they will also tell you that I try like heck to be a better human being.
I also don’t hold any illusion of having control over chaos and drama that is part of the external world, and I know that I do have choices! Personally, I make a choice to limit exposure to TV, news, screeching music, and toxic people. I simply follow the guidance of my instincts and intuition; All I know is what I feel inside and it is often a state of inner wonderment and contentment that has no connection to the outside world. Maybe I’ve latched onto something and if it’s due to the fact that I detach from worldly madness, then so be it. “I can detach and still love, still feel. I can learn to take care of my own business while allowing others to tend to theirs. Today I can detach without losing compassion.” (from the book Courage to Change, p. 187)
In addition to limiting exposure to bedlam, I endeavor to also limit focus on regrets and shame. It’s not easy for a person who’s hard on herself and who has a long list of regrets, and this is where Alanon 12 Step work has helped me to arrive at a state of greater self acceptance, and encouraged me to learn from the past, but not stare at it for hours!
My Father had a favorite song that he would sing whenever something threatened to make him feel regretful:
“And I could cry for the time I’ve wasted
But that’s a waste of time and tears,
And I know just what I’d change
If I went back in time somehow
But there’s nothing I can do about it now”
Thanks Willie Nelson, and thanks Dad! Every time I hear that song, I can’t help but smile and think about what a peaceful man my father was. He had latched onto something!
I opened a fortune cookie the other night and here is what it revealed:
“You see the beautiful in the ordinary. Appreciate this gift.”
I am so grateful and indeed appreciative for the ordinary for truly it hides the extraordinary. My father sang that Willie Nelson song quite often on a family cross-country trip about 15 years ago, so much so that I got annoyed. I believe I might have griped, “If I hear that song one more time, I am going to scream!” How I wish I could have a re-do, go back in time and say, “sing it again!” But that would be a regret, wouldn’t it? My Dad’s singing was an ordinary moment in time – but boy did those moments of his therapeutic singing hold something extraordinary, so much so that this song still moves me to this day and makes me smile and feel quite nostalgic. I will love and cherish that song until I take my last breath – it is a harmonic, spiritual connection to my Father.
Discussion of music and parents reminds me that I serenaded my Mom earlier in the year on her 87th birthday with an out-of-tune rendition of “Moon River” as I strummed my ukulele. It’s one of her favorite songs and I grew up on it, so I surprised her and offered it up as a gift from my spirit to hers. We sat side by side, singing at too high of a key and laughing, and unbeknownst to her, a few tears pooled in my eyes. It was an ordinary moment but it stands out in my mind as such a poignant experience. I went through a lot of ups and downs with my Mother, but here I was, her elder daughter, snuggling next to her and experiencing healing through music, laughter, forgiveness, and mutual acceptance.
A recent glimpse in Lake Tahoe of bright yellowed leaves on Birch trees swaying and glistening in the sunshine like a painting aglow with fire; Dad singing the Willie Nelson song, “There’s nothing I can do about it now!” in a hotel hallway; sitting with Mom on a San Francisco park bench on a Sunday afternoon while friends gather around to chit chat and dogs beg for treats. All ordinary moments but ones that strike a flame in my soul. How sweet life is, and how tragically short. Next time you get annoyed with a singing relative, savor it my friend, savor it.
The Angel of Aging has us all in her scope, so savor those extraordinary, ordinary moments of each day. And don’t forget the terminex… oops I mean, turmeric! 😉