Monday, September 28, 2015

Getting older with gratitude ~ my column from Sunday

I should have seen it coming. If all the offers in the mail for motorized scooters and Viagra weren’t enough, the squeaking knees should have awakened me to the fact that I’m getting older.

But this past Thursday when I received a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it was like seeing the last nail go into the coffin of my youth. It was my Medicare Card.

Slumping on the couch, I examined the letter closely, rubbing my thumb over the writing, hoping that it was a prank. But no such luck. It was my name, my social security number, and they seemed to know a great deal about me. How could this be? Where did the years go?

 The last years of my father’s life, I remember thinking each time I visited that he looked so old. He wasn’t well in the end, but it was more than that. He was worn around the edges like an old leather jacket. He died in 1986 at the age of 63. I will be 65 my birthday.

 My blog buddy Jack nailed it when he said, “The kids at the fast-food register and at the gas station have known for years that you are old.” I snorted with laughter at that comment on my blog.

 Perhaps it was fate that led Jilda and me to an online college course in mindful meditation from Coursera.

 Mindful meditation grew out of the teachings of early Buddhism in India over 500 years before the birth of Christ. By the time it took root in the West, it lost most of the spiritual leanings and modern mindfulness is practiced primarily as a mind science and as a tool in healthcare.

 In the course, one of the things taught is pondering the concept of impermanence. Nothing lasts forever. Seasons change, people move from one place to the other due to changes in jobs, health reasons or to see if the grass is actually greener at the new locale.

As I’ve come to understand with clarity, the longer we live, the more we realize how fragile life is. We begin to lose our pets, our friends and family. From the moment we arrive on this earth, we are moving down the path to our grave.

 The crux of mindful meditation is not to dwell on death but to view the concept of impermanence through the non-judgmental lens of detachment. The idea is that by observing impermanence as a witness, you can get a better sense of how it fits into the larger tapestry of life.

I wasn’t sure about this piece of the practice, but as I spent more time reflecting on my life, and the path I have taken, I found a peace that helped me come to terms with growing older.

In fact, I made up my mind to follow the advice offered by Geo, another blog buddy who said the best counsel he received at 65 when he got his Medicare Card was from a 78-year-old gentleman who suggested that he laminate the card. That sounded like great advice to me.

16 comments:

  1. I have had my medicare card for a few years now. Receiving that did not shock me as much as my first application for AARP. I was only in my 20's at the time.

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  2. Laminate it! Great idea, I love it.

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  3. I'm getting so when I buy stuff at Costco I have to figure out if it is a waste to buy the huge sizes of some items.

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  4. It's a sobering thought to know that from the minute we're born we are on the way to the grave.
    However, with a little bit of luck, in between here and there we can pack a lot in....

    Ms Soup

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  5. I'm in my early 50's and have been practicing mindful meditation for several years. It really helps put life in perspective, especially in times of great stress.

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  6. Life is fragile and more and more every day, I've learned to slow down and pay attention to the moments. I'm grateful for every single one of them.

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  7. Very good thoughts. Yep, that time comes if you live long enough.. ;-)
    Meditation does do a lot for this body and mind. Lots of good in the far East thoughts and teachings about the human body. Frowned on by some who do not know how to separate the blue john from the butter. HA!

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  8. Wonderful post!
    Frankly, I'm growing tired of chasing that greener grass. Perhaps it's time I looked into mindful meditation.

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  9. I believe in meditation-it has a way to calm the mind. Your dad was young when he passed away but maybe he had a tough life?? It sometimes depends on how we live our life, what we eat and do and how we view life. I still think of myself like being in my 30's but that ship sailed 20 years ago:)

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  10. on my birthday I got an email about a discount for magnetic knee straps... I wasn't sure how to take it. I mean..I'm only 22. LoL.
    I don't think I could do meditation. My mind is too full of weird things and ideas and thoughts about life.

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  11. I'll be receiving my card in the mail is a few years so I can sympathize. By the way, that's a great picture of you.

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  12. Age is all in your mind. My youngest son, Blake, was 52 this year. I am 36, although I was born in 1934. The best way to explain this anomaly is to tell you about something that I read in one of Kirk Douglas’ books. A “senior” movie actress was being interviewed. The reporter said, “Forgive me, Madame, but I have to ask. Your son (who was also a star) admits to being 56. You claim to be 63. How can this be?” Her answer (& mine): “He has his life—I have mine!”

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  13. We all are getting older it is part of life it is how we deal with the large number birthdays that matter I am not getting older I am getting wiser and fatter and more easy going as I don't give a rats ass about so many things now days

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  14. Love the pic of you! You look happy, wise, and content. But old? Nah! I guess I always thought the Medicare card meant insurance changes. I forgot about the age thing! Whenever someone tells Jack, "It's good to see you", he always says "It's better to be seen than viewed!"

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  15. You don't look very old, dude. You're a cool guy. I bet Jordan thinks you're the best older man in the world. I would kind of like a medicare card, but I have some time left before I get one. Thank God for the Affordable Care Act.

    Love,
    Janie

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  16. Rick, you don't look that old... and you seem to be much healthier than your dad was... I know I am in much better shape than my grandmother or father was at my age... I think many of us are taking care of ourselves better and remembering to incorporate exercise...

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