Getting Older

July 26, 2013

Today I was reminded of something I am reminded of everyday: the fact that getting older is part of being human (I never imagined that my knees would feel sore from arthritis). Getting older in itself is not a bad thing but there’s always a little bit of our youth hanging around. Whether we are healthy and getting older or not healthy, either way, we’re reminded of the fact that our bodies may be getting older but our minds are young at heart. 

I’m reminded of Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality. In this piece he wrote that living in the world,with all of it’s adult requirements sometimes causes us to move out of something that we’re in touch with when we’re very young: which is hope and imagination. We lose this as we get older, and become indoctrinated into “adult thinking”. 

Remember when we thought anything was possible? The world was our oyster, and a shot at the Presidency was just as likely as becoming a brain surgeon, or having macaroni and cheese for lunch. We could go on a hot air balloon ride, or fly a rocket to the moon.

The possibilities were endless.

That kind of thinking is what’s required, especially when one is facing a serious illness. I don’t hope for miracles but there’s a lot to hope for. Hoping for a good day with few discomforts is pretty practical. Imagining a fantastic outing full of fun and discovery is still a possibility. Yeah, I’m getting older but my mind is child-like at heart. I can still get somewhat giddy over a dessert I may be looking forward to or a visit from a good friend.

I’m getting older but I’m alive and there’s a lot of nice things to be found in that alone.

Being Human

July 2, 2013

Of late, I’ve been considering the plight of feeling stuck. I’ve written considerably about this topic and the problems associated with having certain limitations, but there are some aspects of this experience that remind me that we are all very human, with feelings that don’t change in spite of physical limitations. 

I’ve written about shopping for clothes, looking for health alternatives, and striving to reach summits that don’t seem surmountable. But there is an aspect of this situation that is like the 800 pound gorilla in the room, and that is the following: there are feelings and desires that we don’t like to discuss. We seem to try to hide disease. In part, because we don’t want to see the possibilities, especially if they’re negative. But the questions don’t really change. 

Am I too old to care about how I look when I leave the house? Am I too quadriplegic to be concerned about how clothes fit? Am I too broken to want a lot of the same things I wanted when I was 30? At the risk of much eye-rolling on the part of my son, for instance, who reads my blog, or audible wincing on the part of my husband, people in wheelchairs really do have feelings that are generally not attributed to them. Most of the concerns and longings people have at any age over 20 don’t go away once your mobility is limited. This is an area that is almost never addressed by physicians. They ask about pain and discomfort, or side effects, but unsettlingly avoid that gorilla. Just like anyone else, I want, I fear, and I need. Moving into a wheelchair hasn’t changed that. The difference is, I can’t actively search the way most people would, instead, I’m able to give hours of thought to these things and I’m aware that feelings that I have aren’t different than the wants, fears, and needs of the people around me. I have to boldly face desires and fears. I am reminded of the story of the cave of the green dragon.

The cave of the green dragon is where desires, needs and fears reside. We all struggle to slay the dragon in whatever form that may take. Each time we confront a desire, a need or a fear and take hold of it we are slaying the dragon. 

I live in the cave and people with similar situations also live in the cave. The blog is one way out.