Upon Reaching a Crossroads

These birds sure seem to know where they are going….

I have found myself in sort of a strange place of late – really a crossroads in a way. It’s a time in my life where I still think of myself as young(ish), but the reality is that I am deep into middle age- and all that entails. Though I no longer see myself as the invincible twenty-year-old I was long ago, this past week has driven  home my mortality as I wait for further testing on some health issues and prepare mentally for another surgery. Just as Mom said, getting older is not easy. However, when did ‘easy’ every bring the best things into our lives?

I kept mulling over why I have been so particularly worried, and I think I’ve finally gotten to the root of it all; I am afraid of becoming my mother. Don’t get me wrong- there are so many things that I hope I have gotten from my mom, so many things I do my best to emulate. However, I watched her do less and less physically as she approached her sixties, and she became focused on what was wrong with herself health-wise. Until the day she died she would insist that she must have some terrible illness, that she knew she was going to lose her leg. She would never believe the doctors when they told her she was okay, instead, shaking her head and saying, “I know my body, and I know something is wrong.”

 In reality, except for a degenerative hip issue- the same one that I have- she was in pretty darn good shape up until the last month of her ninety-two years, other than some of the expected aches and pains of a body that has survived a lot of life. That’s it, though- I am afraid of becoming that woman who is almost imprisoned in a lift chair, afraid to do things for fear of pain or of being hurt. Her world became so very small. 

I am not judging her at all- she taught me the meaning of courage and love and in so many aspects of her life.  I just want to approach whatever years I have in front of me with a different mindset. I’m going to have aches and pains just as we all will, but I hope and pray that I will not let those pains -or any illness- define me or my life. I want to live my life fully, saturating myself in experiences that will keep my heart and mind open to the world, hoping that my world will continue to grow instead of shrink. 

I have such a great example in Dan, who is ten years older than I am. He has been through two shoulder surgeries, several knee procedures (with more to come), and deals with chronic pain in his neck. What does he do? More yoga. He was back teaching his yoga classes as soon as he got the go-ahead from his surgeon after each surgery. He faithfully did the PT and took good care of himself. He also went right back to work, staying engaged and invigorated in his career. There is no stopping him. 

Though Dan will age, he will never become old, and that is what I want for myself. I’m not talking about avoiding wrinkles and aches and pains- those are pretty much inevitable (and in reality, that ship has sailed). At this crossroads in my life, I’m talking about keeping my mind and my outlook positive and indefatigably hopeful, open to new ideas and new experiences. That I continue to look forward to what is ahead of me and not lament what is behind me. That I choose to live every day trying to make a difference the best that I can in this world, aches and pains be damned. Onward. 

2 thoughts on “Upon Reaching a Crossroads

  1. Beautiful writing, as always, Denise. I tell myself all the time, a life lived in fear is a life half-lived. Maybe even less…Our worlds shrink in proportion to our fears. I think the thing helping me get over than anxiety/fear, sadly, is seeing my kids have some of the same anxious thoughts. For them, I will do better.

    Side note: have you ever read a wonderful blog by Tom Ryan called The Adventures of Tom & Atticus? Tom is the author of Following Atticus…if you haven’t, give it a look. Your writing reminds me of Tom’s.

    1. Elle, thanks so much for your kind words and perspective. I don’t have children, but I feel that way about my students- I want to set a good example of living without fear to the end. I will check out Tom Ryan’s blog- I follow him on Facebook. Thank you for the head’s up on that- much appreciated.

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