To Be or Not To Be
That, indeed, really IS the question. Do we continue to cling to life despite the overwhelming evidence that our bodies, creaking and groaning, continually nudge to our attention the fact that we are inexorably crumbling earthward?
When we were young, if we grew tired of our rented flat we would go in search of another………we moved…….…we upgraded………we expanded.
As we grew older and owned our first homes, when we outgrew them, either physically or emotionally, we again looked around, saw what struck our next fancy, and moved forward…..….once more into the future.
Now we are settled, adult, kids gone, big houses in the past, our needs are simpler, our space is less demanding. We have right-sized ourselves as social construct and common sense dictates we should.
And then here comes AARP telling us to re-invent ourselves; Life Reimagined, that’s their new jaunty push for the over 50? set that we now fall into.
But here’s the catch.
Our bodies now betray our mind’s ability to do that reinvention that we are desperately seeking to attain. We have worked all our lives to get to a point where we can take a deep breath, look around the wide world and see what percolates up for a new adventure, a next career, a mindful entertainment. We have the time, the resources, the aching will…………but we also have our aching bodies that protest and reject us at every turn as we fitfully start out on each of the new paths that appear before us, looking entirely enticing and alluring, yet requiring a greater degree of energy than we had previously remembered. Our alterations of course are currently demanding more than we have to give.
I cry False Advertising.
What people really need is to absorb the lessons AARP so fervently wants us to learn in our dotage when they are still young and able-bodied enough to put them to good use.
How many of us are having exactly the same conversations at every dinner party and with every friend of a certain age………that would be our age?
My hip is bad
My foot is killing me
My back is shot
My………….fill in the failing body part………..is a mess
It is the ultimate irony that now that we have the time and the interest, we don’t have the physical stamina to tackle all these fascinating and fun things that have waited out there tantalizingly tempting us for decades. If our kids used this type of an excuse in grade school we would never, ever, have believed them. Shirkers. Lay-abouts. Lazy. We’d have decried them.
And yet we gird our loins, hitch up our braces and elastic bands and buckles, and stumble forward keeping care to not really stumble or there’s a hip replacement in our near future. In reality, those hips have probably already been replaced, more than once, and because they’re “like new” our other parts, whether through jealousy or simple re-alignment, groan and protest and flare and inflame for their fair share of the Medicare dollars that they feel they deserve and we, their unwilling foils, spend our days making appointments; for doctors, physicians assistants (doctors-light), MRIs,
“Do you have any metal objects implanted in your body?”
“Have you looked at my medical file? The one that fills a full gig of memory on your computer? Just key in ‘XRay’ and see what pops up. Don’t ask me that again, Tammy, I talk to you every other week.”
physical therapists. And that’s just the traditional medical milieu.
Let us not give short shrift to the massage therapists, yoga instructors, Reike practitioners, psychic alignment shamans, crystal healers, and copper band Internet sellers. They, too, take up a significant amount of our time, money, and quite frankly, the verve that I was planning on devoting to hiking the Appalachian Trail, skydiving the wine country, and swimming with sharks…….oh wait……I may have that last one covered…….insurance companies may be equatable here. But I digress.
AARP Active Adults, Real Possibilities
It’s a great idea in theory. The reality is we should be teaching our young to fully engage themselves throughout their lives, starting now, today. And a word about this concept of engagement.
This does NOT mean that every child must join every team, every club, every sport, take every lesson, attend each practice, you name the activity. Parents should not be the slaves of their child’s schedules nor should their children, for fear of not having a properly fleshed out resume with which to enroll themselves throughout their schooling, lose their humanity for the sake of their future.
I understand that childhood today is radically different than when I was there. My siblings and friends tend to idealize our time as feral youth but in reality, they were the best of times. We had the great good fortune to live in the country, un-phased by mass murders, school shootings, gang violence, aggressively angry bullying, truly partisan, rancorous politics; any of the myriad, hideous realities that kids and parents today must actually confront. We were shoved out the kitchen door every summer morning, told to pack a lunch and be home by dark. Period. End of parental oversight until baths, BBQ, and bed.
But those days, for most, are really and truly history. And we have replaced them with a frantic push to over achievement and programmed activity that creates a generation of hyperactive, overly medicated, PTSD prone children. With both parents working, free time oversight has been shifted to schools, programs, educators, day care, and scheduled social interactions.
Short of creating Biodome utopian country settings where we plop our kids through a portal into the safety of a “controlled county atmosphere” where we let them play out their version of our historic childhoods I don’t know what the answer is.
But I know what it’s not. It is not what we are currently doing.
If we want our kids to be contented, happy, engaging adults then we must model for them what that looks like, warts, casts, imperfections, etal. We must help them into their future by showing them our pasts. Stop filling up their lives with stuff and start filling up their minds with memories. My best recollections are not of bikes or brand names but of feelings and friendships.
More talk, less activity.
AARP starts when you are young