I can still hear my mother say, “Neese, gettin’ old ain’t for sissies!” and also- when Wayne and John would tease her about being old, ominously, “Just you wait until you’re my age- you’ll see!” I always laughed, admonishing her that it wasn’t very nice to curse people. She was ninety-two, hunched over a walker and filled with a lifetime and more of aches and pains. I’m only fifty-five and already I’m getting a pretty strong preview of coming attractions. Dear lord.
Chez Gainey, sans a bunch of weeds…
Classes begin on Monday, and though I’ve been in the office much of the summer, Monday will signify the true end to any summer freedom. I love school, love my job, but now the long summer to-do list that never got to-done is haunting me. I feel pressure to get as much completed as I can, especially as we’re hosting a gathering for the music faculty on Saturday to welcome our new colleagues.
One of Dan’s projects was rebuilding Calliope after a major storm knocked her over…
Dan and I each attacked our personal lists over the weekend, with Dan doing some plumbing repairs in the guesthouse for our AirBnB before the next guests arrived and me pulling weeds and raking up leaves. We both love doing what we call ‘putzing around the house’, and yard work is my favorite kind of stress-reducing therapy.
Yard assistants…or supervisors?
I tackled a patch of ivy so established in one part of our yard that I had to use clippers to cut through the thick cords and then wrestle what seemed like miles of the prolific vines from the trees and other ivy it had clung to. I made a huge mess which we then had to then haul down to the street.
A peaceful spot…
Unfortunately I also made a huge mess of my shoulder and neck by pulling so long and at such weird angles. By lunchtime the next day, the pain has ramped up around my rotator cuff and up into my neck, making even the jarring of simple walking painful. I went home from work early to ice it and have Dan (blessedly a licensed massage therapist) work on the area, ending up having to ask my colleagues to move a scheduled recording session that evening. I felt awful doing that, but I knew the distraction of the pain would prevent me from playing my best.
Shiva judging me…
I don’t like the idea of not being able to do what I’ve done so easily my whole life, the idea of slowing down…of getting old. I don’t mind getting older (better than the alternative for sure!) and I love the wisdom and perspective that comes with the passing years; I’m just not a big fan of back pain, arthritis, and pulled muscles from doing things I’ve done for ages with no problem. Oh, the humanity!
Sophie is my spirit animal…at least after a long day of work.
Here’s the deal, though; those aches and pains? I’ve earned every single one of them doing my best to live life to the fullest, caring for our home and its inhabitants, carrying my instruments to school and to the concert stage. I’ve exercised, I’ve lifted my elderly mother as I cared for her, I’ve helped Dan with house projects and done crazy fun stuff like whitewater rafting and zip lining. I’ve run several races, played volleyball and kickboxed. It’s not always been an easy life physically, but I have enjoyed being absolutely, gloriously alive, warts and bruises and pulled muscles and all.
Marley smiling, as always.
And so, I’ll keep fighting the good fight, will keep stretching, yoga-ing, icing, heating, Ibuprofen-ing and Bio-Freeze-ing as needed…and will see my wonderful physical therapist tomorrow before the rescheduled recording session. A life well-lived is a beautiful thing, even when it is accompanied by aches and pains and other such fun.
Now, hand me the damn Bio-Freeze and let’s crack on- there’s life to be lived.