Dear Readers, I am still writing about adoption-related issues. For this week, however, I’m venturing into another “A” word–>AGE! Not a popular topic here in
the Blogosphere, but nonetheless, I’m tackling it.
I’m lucky enough to live right across the road from a hiker-friendly foothill of the Rocky Mountains, Sun Mountain, or as it’s dubbed by the locals, “Monte Sol.” In fact, I am just back from a morning hike with my older son, who’s here visiting for a few weeks. That is, we started out together. As I was rounding the last switchback before the summit’s flat viewing area, my son strolled over to me as though he’d been waiting for a bit. For him, Monte Sol was the mere beginning of a trifecta hike.
We stood at the windy overlook and briefly discussed the possibilities. Even though my son urged me to continue with him to “Monte Luna” (Moon Mountain), I told him that I was happy to master just the first peak.
“Another time for Luna, ” I suggested. That was fine with him, and he
took off down into the rocky gulch that led to another steep ascent. He disappeared into the pinon-lined canyon while I ambled solo down Monte Sol. I’d walked at top speed going up. Going down, I took time to enjoy views and reflect on the difference between our generations.
I do not feel “old,” but I am now older than I could ever have imagined being. Because I’m enjoying what Swiss psychotherapist C. G. Jung called the “afternoon” of life, it seems that my powers of adaptation have increased even as physical capabilities have diminished. When I was half my age, I ran marathons. Now I walk up Monte Sol, and that is enough.
Everyone we know—including ourselves— will someday be old-ER, or even (gasp) really OLD. It’s not really cause for lament but rather for celebration. A reminder: not everyone reaches the “privilege of aging,” to quote the title of my friend Patricia Shapiro’s excellent book (The Privilege of Aging: Portraits of Twelve Jewish Women).
Perhaps because I have grown more accepting of my adoptee status, life seems to be offering many opportunities to reflect on this phenomenon of growing older.
I can’t help but notice that some friends who are considerably younger than I am are passing away, and it hurts. Each loss of a friend or loved one nibbles away, reminders of mortality.
Recently I attended an excellent discussion group hosted by The Transition Network. It comprised women, some of whom were in their fifties, others in their 60s and 70s. The evening began with a writing session during which we were to imagine ourselves at age 80. After writing for 20 minutes, we shared our thoughts.
Nearly everyone in the group imagined themselves as healthy and mentally active. Other visions of being eighty included always learning and challenging the mind, being a good friend and having friends of all ages, making the choice to be happy, being unafraid of the advancing numbers.
One woman shared her experience of being on a rowing team in college, training every day no matter what the weather was up to. Most days of rowing training, she said, ranged from pleasant to difficult but some were nearly impossible. She related the challenges of rowing on days when wind howled and rain pelted, and she recalled the words of her coach. “Just keep rowing — no matter what.”
Be it gently rowing down the stream, toiling upstream, or just rowing through, perseverance and adaptation are keys to enjoying life’s passages. In dealing with both adoption and aging, it is best to simply “Row, row, row your boat…”