I sleep naked, but that may change.
It’s not because I’m cold, or my wife asked that I put on PJ’s, or that I’m becoming modest (who sees me besides my wife?). It’s because getting out of bed has become more difficult with each passing year. First, I need to roll over if I’m face down, and that takes effort. Then I need to contort my body into a position that grants me the strength to throw my legs over the side of the bed, plant feet on the floor, reach over to grab my t-shirt hanging on the end of the bed, and slip it on. Now to perform the painful task of standing upright. My lower back rebels as I slowly straighten, but I’m finally standing, although pant-less. I once again reach over to the head of the bed, hunt around for my boxers, which have been pre-inserted into my sweats to make this next step easier . But no, it’s not easy. If I try to pull them up from a standing position my lower back says “NO…not today you’re not”! If I sit to put them on it’s WWIII with my lower back. Oh my lord, it’s painful to pull those sweats up in the morning. So, that’s why I’m considering sleeping fully clothed. I’d only have the act of standing to contend with….an easier way to start the day.
The first few minutes in the morning is when I feel the years catching up with me. Granted, it’s only the first 15-20 minutes of the day that the stiff and sore feeling in my joints and lower back bother me…once I start moving around I’m really fine. In fact I feel that at the ripe old age of 61 I’m really in the minority of baby boomers, let alone all the other age groups, of people that are in good physical condition. Look around; obesity is a national epidemic as well as Type 2 Diabetes. Those facts alone should scare people straight off the fast food/processed food bandwagon, but alas it will not. The old cliche goes that ‘getting old is not for sissies’. True, one needs to work at staying physically healthy and fortunately for me it’s not a burden….I enjoy my good physical health and make it part of my lifestyle. Our friends, who are mostly very active people like ourselves, also make their physical health a life priority which makes it easier for us.
Sure, I can’t control my hair loss or what’s left on top from turning gray. My skin is not as elastic as it once was and my vision failed the day after I turned fifty (I have ‘readers’ in every nook and cranny of our home and cars). But for what I may have lost physically over the years I hope I’ve made up by being smarter about physical endeavors.
“Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” Edward Stanley (1826-1893)
But what of the brain?
While I feel the affects of aging on my body, sometimes I feel my mind has aged much, much more slowly. Our parents and grandparents generations appeared to have an ‘older’ mindset, while our generation has learned to age with less of a willingness to get old, something our baby boom mindset won’t allow. True, it does get more difficult to keep up with technology, but I feel smart enough to take advantage of technology that I need and not concern myself with what is clearly not meant for me. Memory does start to slip but there are ways around that. I use tools of my own design to exercise my memory; instead of using rote memorization I use visual cues to help remember names and places. I tend to remember more through visualization. I periodically go through a list of people whose names I often forget and work at remembering them. I still have a difficult time remembering names when I first meet someone but that has always been a problem for me and I don’t believe age has made it worse. I also try to exercise my brain, continuing to learn by reading a variety of writings, going to plays, museums, galleries and by limiting my television viewing to movies, documentaries and the occasionally well crafted short run dramas and comedies that are so plentiful on the small screen today. I meditate daily, which is a great tool for focusing the mind both during meditation and at other times. And physical activity is also great for the brain.
“The wiser mind mourns less for what age takes away than what it leaves behind.” William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
While my body may be 61, my brain age is about 24! I know, if I was able to go back to my 24 year old self I’d feel differently, but the point is I feel young mentally; not immature (although my wife may disagree) but still open to living life to its fullest; physical activities, travel, learning, a thirst to know and do more regardless of what my body tells me. Of course I’m not fooling myself; I look in the mirror and see my age, but sometimes I have a difficult time reconciling the person looking back with the person inside.
Perhaps men really are just big boys.
No matter one’s successes or failures males tend to have a little boy about to surface. Maybe I feel that way because of my birth order (youngest of three); or that I don’t have children of my own; or perhaps I’m not as mature as I like to think (which I’m okay with). But perhaps what’s most important is continuing to feel excited about life, all the things we like to do and the people we involve ourselves with, the same as I felt when I was 24!
Regardless, I like that I feel young, and I don’t dwell on the time when I no longer will. It will come, but I’ll fight it as long as possible.
“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan (1921-2006)