On turning 59: Growing older

I have now made it to my 59th birthday.

And I have to say . . . this past year made those clichés about aging and health the truth for me!

The weather has caused some aches over the years – but nothing like since my double knee replacement in September. If you want to know if the weather is about to change, just ask me. My knees are letting me know.

I now “get” those cliches about aging and weather and aches and pains.

I was a pretty healthy person until I was 51 and was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had gotten sick now and again with the colds and viruses that were going around, but I hadn’t had a surgery since getting my tonsils out at age three.

Everything changed with that breast cancer journey, though. Since then I’ve had skin cancer (a couple of years ago), a hysterectomy this past spring, and a big one – double knee replacement – in September. I didn’t expect my knees to wear out so soon. I suppose no one does, though, no matter the age.

You’ve heard the cliche “Getting older isn’t for sissies.”

That’s true.

But I wouldn’t go back to any younger age.

You see, these health problems have been opportunities for me to change and grow – spiritually and emotionally.

When I can’t go and do, I have to reconsider what I find to be important. 

Does the ability to get out, to drive, to walk, to hike, to be physically active – does that identify me?

The answer is “no.” I am still me even when I can’t do.

I’m still me if I can only be.

And here at my 59th birthday, I’ve learned a lot about life and about myself.

And I know that learning will continue just as much when I have to be instead of do.

Not that I don’t resist these opportunities to learn. Not that I don’t wish I could do more.

But I can see that being becomes more important as we age.

And that’s how it should be.

The big “doing” is for younger folks. As we age, our bodies slow us down into less doing and more being.  We can’t do as much, but we are perhaps more.

More patient, more tolerant, more accepting . . . more wise.

Our world could use quite a bit of this more. And that’s why we aging folks are here. To remind the younger folks that doing doesn’t make you better. That it’s okay to slow down some. That activity level isn’t the standard of a good life. That a life that includes physical pain can still be worthwhile.

That growing older really is about growing.

Just in a way that we often forget. A growing down into wisdom rather than up into activity.

I’ll take the wisdom. It comes with age.

Those clichés are true that being in this aging body is painful.

But it’s also blessed with wisdom that I had to age into.

So I look at this 59th birthday and am grateful.

I’m more content with being than I once was.

I’m more content . . . period.

Growing older isn’t for sissies.

But it is for those who want to grow in wisdom.

Savannah Christmas 2007 038

Live oak trees on the driveway into Wormsloe State Historic Site, Savannah, GA

 

 

 

 

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