Sunday, June 18, 2017

Been There; Done That





Only in the past few months have I begun to think of myself as old. I felt equal to life until the back operation in March. It derailed me. In an effort to get out of my self-absorption, I began to blog again back in April. Eager to find out what others were doing, I delighted in reading posts about walking and hiking, volunteering, gardening—all sorts of interesting activities.

As I read the postings, I found myself thinking “That would be a fun thing to do. Why am I not doing that?” I began to feel like a wimp. “Others do these things, why don’t I?” became almost a mantra for me.

Then an epiphany was given to me this past Friday evening.

While watching the Great British Baking Show with Matthew purring on my lap, I suddenly said, “We have such a good life.” Stroking his fur, I began to think of the days when I’d baked yeast bread and quick bread, cookies and scones all winter long.

That led to my thinking about my whole life and all I’ve gotten to do.

While in my thirties and early forties, I rode my bicycle in the countryside around Stillwater for ten miles a day before driving to work. After a bicycle accident landed me in the hospital for three days and in recuperation for ten weeks, I began to walk. During my late forties and my fifties and sixties, I walked three to four miles a day in the nearby 1849 cemetery—up and down its hills and in the shadow of its tall, overarching trees. So I have exercised.

Throughout my forties, fifties, and sixties, I taught reading to adults and helped prep them for the GED. For ten years during that time, I took an elderly, homebound woman out to eat three times a week. So I have volunteered.

I fought the weeds in both vegetable and perennial gardens from the time I was 37 to age 73, when I moved to Missouri and settled for a shrub garden. For thirty-six years, I delighted in watching nature share its vitality and beauty with me and the neighborhood. So I have gardened.

I could go on, but the epiphany is this: I’ve been fortunate. I’ve lived long enough to have done many things: gardening; walking and bicycling; baking and trying new recipes for twelve to sixteen guests who came bi-monthly for a sit-down dinner; crocheting, knitting, and macramé-ing; painting and potting; trying out Pilates, yoga, and Tai Chi Chih; camping for fifteen years in the North Woods and along Lake Superior in Minnesota; traveling; being a part of book clubs; protesting the Vietnam War and getting involved in animal rights; working as an election judge for ten years and knocking on doors for MoveOn.org for three years; teaching and writing. 

The list could go on, but you get my drift. When we are fortunate enough to live long lives—and I’m 81 now—we have a lot to show for them. Just because I can’t do what I used to do, I did do those things once. I am reminded of the words from a poem I memorized my senior year in high school. The last lines of “Ulysses” by Alfred Lord Tennyson are as follows:

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Peace.


Photo of Alfred Lord Tennyson from Wikipedia.

30 comments:

  1. Oh, so true, Dee! I am glad to have done all that I have, and that I can still do much of what I love. I know that it all changes, that is the nature of being alive. I am grateful for all that I have and the wonderful life I lead. Part of my great joy is sharing thoughts with like-minded bloggers around the world. Sending you big virtual hugs! :-)

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    1. Dear DJan, thank you for the virtual hugs! My niece is going to pick me up shortly to take me over to my brother's for father's day--his day with his family. I am so fortunate to have him for a brother. He's such a good man and always has been. I'm fortunate truly in every way. I'm glad you feel that way also. We are lucky! Peace.

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  2. Dee and DJan, thank you both for being yourselves. Vital, exciting, inspirational women. With gratitude at the core.

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    1. Dear EC, thank you! Sometimes, I forget to be grateful, but always some grace brings me back to the foundation that supports everything else--gratitude. I think this is true for you too. Peace.

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  3. Yes it is really something to look back and see what wevall managed to put into our younger days. I often wonder now how it all fit into a day, a week or even a month. I think about your brother for you were once split up as kids and I went through that too. Sadly mine is gone, mHe was hit by a truck at age 30. My sister is around, she never had kids. She now shares mine.
    Enjoy your days.

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    1. Dear Heidrun, in seventh grade, my best friend's father--who was in his mid-30's--was also hit by a truck and died. The death of those so young always seems especially tragic to me. I'm glad your sister is still around and that you share your kids--children and grandchild with her. Peace.

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  4. If we compare our lives to others we may think we have not lived and interesting life or we may think damn we have lived an interesting life, interesting is good, exciting is good by happy and content are better I would rather have a happy life than an exciting one but that is just me, I am happy with the life I have

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    1. Dear Jo-Anne, it's wonderful to be happy with the life we have. I feel that also. However, ever so often I go off the deep end into self-centeredness and then I seem to embrace discontent. I'm trying to hold on to gratitude ever and always. I'm glad you do. Peace.

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  5. I have slowed down this year and have experienced the frustration of not being as able to do things as easily as I once did. I will, though, keep trying. It is good to do what you have done and look back and remember your accomplishments and be proud of the life you have lived. You have certainly had an interesting journey and have contributed much to the betterment of others. You have done well, Dee, yes, very, very well.

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    1. Dear Arleen, thank you for your kind words. As I wrote that post yesterday I realized just how many--multitudes upon multitudes--of good memories I have. The thing is, we have to be gracious to ourselves as we age. That's what I'm learning. Peace.

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  6. You had no way of knowing how much I needed to read this just now, Dee. You are wise to have taken the moments to look back and generous to have shared this. Thank you, Dee. Tennyson's words ring stronger with each passing year, don't they? Your words, however, inspire me all-the-more. Yes. We should be grateful for what we have done - and this will be a new mantra of mine as I begin what I hope is a gradual slowing dow.

    I know those streets of Stillwater - quite hilly, as I'm supposing the outskirts are. Here's to a great day, Dee. Thank you.

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    1. Dear Penny, actually, the hills start as the ground moves down toward the river. So the countryside is more flat than hilly!!! As to slowing down, yes, it happens but what I learned these past few days is that the glow of the memories can warm us. Take care. Peace.

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  7. How very true! I am so glad I packed a lot into my years, too. Have a fabulous week, Dee!! :)

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    1. Dear Rita, yes, we've "packed a lot" into our years and I hope to pack more! You have a fabulous week also. Peace.

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  8. I love that show! I love cooking so I often look for an inspiration.

    Dee, you have done so much in your life. And such amazing things! I can only hope I do at least half as much in my lifetime.

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    1. Dear Baiba, it's a wonderful show and I'm so impressed with all the baking these British contestants can do.

      You will, I hope, have a full life filled with adventure. Your heart is in the right place and that leads to friendship and contentment. Peace.

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  9. Wow are we on the same page. I too was recently moaning that a lot of my strength is just gone but then like you instead of groaning about what I no longer have, I thought back over what I had done and felt quite at ease. Nice feeling isn't it?

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    1. Dear Patti, I'm glad we both stopped groaning and found a reason to be grateful. It IS a nice feeling! Peace.

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  10. The author John Katz says that aging is a process of letting things go. You can do it sad, kicking and screaming, or gracefully but one way or the other, life is going to change. I hate giving up the things I have had to and I miss them, but the only way to be happy in life is to be grateful and hold things with a loose grip. An attitude of gratitude. Thanks for helping me remember that!

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    1. Dear Cynthia, what is the name of the book by John Katz that talks about aging? I'd like to read it. I have arrived at the realization that a life lived in gratitude brings the reward of contentment. Peace to you.

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  11. Sounds like a life well lived Dee! I think keeping active helps you stay healthy both in body and spirit. It seems to have worked for you....

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    1. Dear Molly, I kept active until I was 70 and got Meziere's Disease. There was no walking with that. I'm trying once again to get active. Walking a little a day, hoping to get up to a mile or so. Peace.

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  12. Oh Dee! That's a wonderful post. Reminding me to count my blessings and live the life.

    With Love
    Shalet

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    1. Dear Shalet, yes I think you have the right formula for contentment! Peace.

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  13. I am in awe of your post. You have had a full life and you have done it all. I find myself thinking of how fortunate I have been, and yet, like you, I sometimes yearn for something and know I can no longer do that. Thank you for giving me a different point of view on all of this!

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    1. Dear Dreaming, thank you for your kind words. As I follow your blog postings about your trip to France, I find myself wishing that were possible for me at this stage of my life. But I don't so! So you take me there--as you did with the wine museum--and I'm loving it--the living vicariously through your adventures. Peace.

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  14. Perfect! My own view is very similar. I continue to seek and find new outlets in a much constricted present life from my younger days. The past including lost a son to bipolar and a spouse slipping away to Alzheimers is what it is and the future will be what chance and my own attitudes make it. Optimism and a smile keep me going...:)

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    1. Dear Troutbirder, it's so true that our attitude makes all the difference to whether we feel contented and to whether we find our living meaningful. Like you, I try to let optimism and a smile keep me going. But my life hasn't had in it the difficulties yours has. I admire you. Peace.

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  15. Oh wow ! You have done so much in your life that I am kind of embarrassed. You can still enrich others like you just did by sharing a very strong poem. I hope to see many more posts from you.
    Take care of yourself.
    Peace.

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    1. Dear Munir, I bet in the sum total, you've done much more than I. I never married or had children and so I had time to protest and do some other things that you may have not had time to do. But look at all you've done. Amazing. Peace.

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