A reader expresses why she shows up, and explains why it's important that we ALL show up for each other
Today is packing day for the next Big Trip. It's not like my usual ones. The cost of airfare anywhere during Spring Break caused me a minor heart attack, and the state of my body forced me to consider what was best.
What's best is to take time to BE. Added to that, time on the beach and dunes to hike the sand, which is likely to do wonders for my newly-freed foot. Since I am due for my final surgery on April 5th, which will force me to stay in for many weeks, this month is a celebration of sorts of being able to walk sans boot or scooter for four weeks. OMG YAY.
But this is about a reader, and why I keep sharing these journeys.
NancyL wrote such a lovely comment to all of us that I have to share it here. She continues to eyeball our comments, progress, our pitfalls, pratfalls and enduring patience with our ageing bodies. Her comment so moved me:
It's funny finding a place where I feel like a youngster at 64 - it happens when I go places like retiree gatherings with people from my first working experience, where I was 22 and everyone else was anywhere from 35 and up - but I have made a practice of hanging with mixed-age company for at least 20 years now, and every word is gold. I have a knitting posse, for instance, where the age range is 55-80, 3 of my friends have lost their husbands during this 20+ year journey, and most are now retired. I am taking mental notes on everything from how to grieve and celebrate, how NOT to be part of grown children's lives when it is not healthy, and how to grow and strengthen social love.
What that crowd does not give me is how to be physically bad-ass as I age. That's one reason I'm over here, and all of you - Penny, Jim, Julia of course - are my friend group, as the kids say. I am grateful for you, I am rooting for Julia's self-propelled speedy rehab, and I salute you Penny for your fight.
I'm listening, learning, and out the door for a run or walk or Zumba or whatever it is. If I'm groaning about it, I think about you all and hoist my butt out anyway.
THANK YOU. (author bolded)
This is not just about me. This is about all our stories. Our willingness to share what it's like to age in a society of age-haters and youth-worshippers. Warren Nelson is running ( may have already) a big prepper race this weekend, others of us are doing whatever we do, going to the gym or in my case forcing my still-sore left foot to bend in ways it doesn't like.
Here's what that bad boy looks like:
It's still a bit uncomfortable to force my foot through the entire natural walking process, which is why I am going to walk, hike and move move move. Why?
Because, as I learned with the left foot, recovery involves a great deal of-one-legged hopping. This foot is soon going to take on the brunt of that effort, and it needs to be prepared as much as possible. That takes work.
Penny is recovering/recovered from a back injury, but determined as ever to keep after it. Jim S and his wife head out daily for their walk, storms or no storms.
Randy Roig's wife is recovering from a bad shoulder injury while they were exploring the Antarctic.
We so often forget, or dismiss, the body's incredible ability to respond to our ask at any point. Right now I am juggling an interesting new development: I just had hand surgery on my right hand Feb 6th, and am supposed to be letting that bad boy heal in a hard cast.
The good news is that I was able to move my fingers in ways that you're normally not supposed to, and healing is VERY fast.
The bad news is that I developed some kind of soft tissue issue on the base of left thumb (it's not a ganglion cyst) which is so painful I can barely use the hand. I can't get it excised until April 19th, and right now the left hand is supposed to be doing all the work. It hurts so much at times I can't even use it.
So I have to use my healing right hand, which is supposed to be in this hard cast, for many things that my doctor does not want me to do.
What's a girl to do?
Centuries ago we didn't have pain drugs the way we do today. Surgeries were done sans anesthesia. People dealt with it.
Each of us does, every day. We deal. What makes us interesting to others is how we deal.
I spent most of yesterday on the phone with a beloved friend whom I don't call often enough. One of the mysteries she can't understand about me and my life is why I find my challenges so damned funny.
THAT'S HOW I DEAL.
It's not for everyone. In fact I am quite capable of offending the holy crap out of people who don't see the humor, even when I am only laughing at myself.
Not my problem.
The point is that how you deal, how you juggle the increasing challenges of a changing body, a changing world and all the issues we face is a gift to others when we can demonstrate how to deal.
Those will invariably involve faceplants, failures, foibles and f*ckups. HOW WE DEAL with them is our gift to others. Our willingness to share what we don't do well, to be openly and publicly vulnerable, is the permission we give others to be human, frail and ultimately strong in the ability to admit our frailty.
Nancy's comment speaks to the beating heart of why I do what I do. Why I share the stories of those who share them with me and why I constantly curate material that I hope to be helpful so that we can all age well and vibrantly.
Here's the new hand by the way:
Since 2018, including the next foot surgery, that will make eight. Then this thing on my hand gets excised and that puts the left hand down for a bit, although I have to use it anyway, so that will be fun working through the discomfort.
Why? Because you deal. The house has to be run, food has to be cooked, trash goes out, wood gets schlepped, laundry gets folded, sore hands or no sore hands. Bum foot or no bum foot.
Life goes on.
Until it doesn't.
What will you do with the time you are given?
Well, here's one thing. This a birthday gift to myself for the wall in my living room, which allows me to revel in the gorgeousness of the coastal sunsets when I am not there:
Tomorrow I am off for two solid weeks of watching these sunsets from my fave motel so that I can work on my book chapters.
I am off downstairs to do some gym work. Today I pack. Tomorrow the cast gets checked and I get one more chiro adjustment before I am off. And stay tuned, I will be riding horses on the Northern Cali coast and visiting the great redwoods. Pix and videos to follow.
I AM STOKED. I am riding despite a bum foot and two non-working hands.
I am going to deal with it.
Meanwhile, please kindly keep sharing your stories. As Nancy makes very clear, they matter.
Dear Walkabout Saga Reader:
Thank you so much for taking a few minutes out of your life to read my work. WalkaboutSaga is an act of love and devotion, and I hope that you found value in it.
If my work appeals to you, may I kindly invite you to consider joining those Patreon supporters whose generosity keeps the gas in my tank as it were.
Such articles take time, resources, research and effort. Even a small amount of support truly helps me keep this going. In challenging times, I recognize that even a small amount is hard. Those who can give, I appreciate it. Those who cannot, I hope my words are helpful.
My purpose is to Move People's Lives. I can do more of that with your help.
However you decide to partake of my writing, again, thank you.