My body is getting older. Not so the brain. Which often finishes the New York Times Crossword puzzle and is still sharp and alert. Which can be a problem, lest I’m at a rousing party and get an impulse to try that jitterbug move I’m famous for and land up in the drummer’s lap.
Case in point. I’m watching my ten year old granddaughter play softball when the batter hits a slow roller down the third base foul line. Mind you, in my lifetime I have fielded thousands of ground balls as a kid playing baseball on up through Sundays at the park with the old guys playing slow pitch softball. So I think nothing about scooping down, gracefully fielding the ball and snapping off a throw to the pitcher. Only problem, I can’t bend down, the ball skips through my legs, and I fall on my butt, rolling around like a pop up punching clown.
The test is not about getting up. But not getting down on myself.
The grass stain on my khaki shorts will wash out. The task is to figure out how to accept and accommodate the increased physical limitations while celebrating and exercising the intelligence and creativity that remains. There’s a story I heard about a man who upon learning he had a deadly cancer, responded to the diagnosis by exclaiming excitedly, “wow, what an experience that will be!” I’m well short of the zeal of that enlightened fellow, but you get the idea, and the goal: use the ties that bind you to set you free.
By accepting what is, you gain full access to the assets that still are. No longer able to run fast as the wind? You’ll get to see more clearly all the little miracles of life that you missed when you sped right by them. Physical decline as we grow older is inevitable. But within us, there is a higher power that resists aging’s slow bodily decline, the human spirit.
Within us is an astonishing human ability to live beyond the physical realm. We can thrive when we make life-affirming choices that cultivate an attitude of positivity, resisting the role of victim. Living a life of purpose gives us the strength we need, barbells and aerobics aside.
As for no longer being able to hit a home run, not so long ago my granddaughter and I built a Jenga Tower with 18 levels before toppling. Try that, Anthony Rizzo!