aging gets real

Posted: October 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

Working at a senior housing facility, as I have mentioned here repeatedly, has really changed my frame of reference for my life.  Before the change to this job, I had mostly worked with kids.  I had also sometimes worked with peers, but had definitely never had work that regularly exposed me to the aging process.  In my mind, I was basically never going to get old.  Working mostly with kids tends to make it easy to stay that kid kind of mindset, and who is more invincible or immortal than kids? 

I didn’t go LOOKING to work with seniors (I got my current job by answering a blind ad for a “busy executive office), and to be honest, I was a little sick to my stomach when I got offered the job.  But since then I have been very, very grateful for what I am gaining in my current work environment.

I now know I am not invincible or immortal.

I no longer offer myself the option of pretending I am not going to get old.

I get it now that I don’t get to just decide by mental attitudes what my aging process will or will not look like. 

In other words, working where I do made me finally get real.

What I’ve learned in my workplace, in observing and interacting with seniors as well as studying and learning the field and being sort of mentored by my boss and amazing coworkers, has more and more shaped the way I think about how I live my own life.

I understand that what I do or don’t eat has huge bearing on whether I develop one of all manner of awful conditions that sneak up on those who don’t live well. 

I understand that choosing not to keep this body moving is a choice toward inability to keep it moving later.

I get that my mind needs regular work of many different types, to keep from going backward. 

In theory, I knew these things before.  But for me, they were not connected enough to reality to actually change my daily decisions.  The longer I watch people age up close, the more firm that connection to reality becomes for me. 

I’ve already made an endless number of decisions in 47 years that have shortened my life, for sure, and have also limited my choices, without a doubt.  All the more reason to be very serious about using the remainder of my choices well.

I used to have a silly talk, full of bravado and short-sightedness, on this topic.  A bunch of blowhard stuff about not being afraid of dying.  The truth is I wasn’t and am STILL not afraid of dying – but DUDE:  there can be an awfully long space of time between “functional” and dead, and I’d like to keep that space as short as possible (and live it at the highest possible quality available.)  I’d like to be able to enjoy my kids, grandkids, etc and not be so checked-out or miserable that enjoyment is beyond my reach. 

I don’t have it perfectly figured out yet.  Today I ate way too much junk food, even knowing how not cool that is, for instance.  But in general, I am living more wisely and much more sustainably than I was even as recently as 2 or 3 years ago. 

That wasn’t gonna happen, as long as I could goof around with kids or sit comfortably with peers all the time.  I NEEDED the up-close-and-personal course of study God has chosen for me, to change my ways.

So color me grateful.  Apparently God knows what He’s doing.  Here’s to cooperating with Him, instead of continuing to insist on my old stubborn, self-destructive ways. 

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