The wisdom that comes with age is very real. But don’t you still wish you had a handbook?
By Liz Marchi
PHOTO: I am so grateful for the marriage of my goddaughter and namesake, Liz Jordan, to Chase Tedder in Alabama. These are moments that I cherish as I age.
Most of us avoid the topic of age. We pretend it’s not really happening and continue living our lives based on habit and routine. The time to write a personal handbook on aging is well before you need it.
I have always had a strong vision of what I wanted my life to look like. I have erred on the side of doing too much rather than being too focused. The advent of age among family and friends has brought physical limitations, dementia and other afflictions that vastly impact the quality of life. While we can’t plan for these, we can be acutely aware of the present. Your time, your energy and your money should be spent in accordance with what you value in this life — time is a limited resource.
We missed a flight out of Atlanta yesterday, so we are hanging around the airport trying to get home. I just spent an hour in the bookstore looking for some inspiration or wisdom on aging. The only book available, which I highly recommend, is Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal,” which I have read and reread. Growing old doesn’t happen overnight, but in stages. As I look at magazines and books, they are mostly about starting a life, not closing one out. What a shame. The wisdom and maturity born of the experience of living is deeply valuable. The wisdom of age is very real.
The “Medicare Stage” will come soon for me. What have I learned? Nothing is more important than your physical, mental and emotional health. I invest time every day in stretching, walking, being quiet and breathing deeply, and being intentional about being in touch with my body. Most days I try to focus on the many things for which I am grateful. Jon and I have divergent views on some things regarding age. I would prefer a smaller place, less maintenance and to be closer to a college or university. That day may come, but, for now, the compromise is all the travel we can manage, having three precious corgis (pets give us the unconditional love we so need on the days we don’t feel very lovable) and continuing to wake up to the beauty of our ranch.
I am working on forgiveness and no regrets. My parents are both at a challenging stage. They are in pain. They don’t reason the way they once did because every day is a struggle. One of life’s greatest lessons is: “If it is to be, it is up to me.” It’s my work to love them as they are and to remember them as the good parents.
For years, I made a list of three things to get done in my work every day. Sales was always on that list. Although I am continuing to work, now my list includes thinking about my children, grandchildren and Jon to discern how I can be helpful. I am cultivating kindness — kindness and patience. New habits! It has been very hard to see myself totally outside of my work, which I love and has been so important to me.
I am writing my handbook on aging and would welcome any of your thoughts. Please send them to email@example.com.
Liz is fascinated by the various approaches to aging — from denial, to plastic surgery, to running marathons, to depression. Given our current demographics, Liz thinks there is a lot to explore, celebrate and learn from those living and aging in the Flathead Valley. Contact her at Liz@frontierangels.com.