An interesting thing happened on my well-traveled road to maturity. My collateral, long assumed to be material things and assets, morphed into something far more valuable and priceless. Health became paramount and without it, everything else pales in comparison.
At my age, all the money in the world doesn’t mean a damn thing if you don’t have your health. As wealthy as some folks are, few of them if any, can buy their way back to health once it’s gone.
In retrospect, I’ve been very lucky. I think I’m in fairly good shape simply because I started running early on and never stopped until I was well past 70. After one memorable weekend in the service, I stopped drinking all hard liquor except for a light beer once in a while. I’ve never smoked (OK, weed doesn’t count during my wannabe hippie years), and I’ve maintained my weight pretty well. It wasn’t planned out that way. There were no goals and objectives for a lifetime of trying to stay fit. I just started working and moving about beginning in 7th grade and have kept at it all my life.
I thought about this phenomenon recently after attending yet another funeral. It seems more and more of my friends and acquaintances have experienced recent health issues at this stage in their lives. That and my own aches and pains crawling out of bed each morning brought that issue to mind.
‘Late in life’ issues often prompt a reflective glimpse back in time. The famous Irish poet Oscar Wilde once said, “The final mystery is oneself.” So how does one unravel the mystery of self? It probably can’t happen without self-awareness and self-awareness won’t happen without reflection.
I’m at that point in life where things are starting to happen beyond my control. This old body has been pumping and expanding for seventy-six years. Fortunately its wear and tear has been relatively minimum. For others an excess of ‘living the good life’ is finally starting to show its consequences. For others, it’s the luck of the draw or the flip side of that event. I mentioned that idea in another blog entitled ‘Our Final Tabulation.’
Reflecting back on circumstances or events in one’s life can bring about new insights into your present circumstances. I think reflection is looking inward so one can look back with a broader, more accurate perspective of your current situation in life. Health more than most other events can bring that to the forefront.
As the cliché goes, it’s never too late to begin again. When my Mother and stepfather couldn’t dance anymore at ages ninety and eight-two respectively, they took up cards to strengthen their minds. I didn’t recognize it back then but their actions were a powerful motivator for me to keep pressing on.
Hiking the Garstin Trail each Saturday morning has brought me renewed appreciation for the mountain goats that so often pass me on their trek to the summit. These are weathered old goats who have passed up their country club lifestyle for the more challenging heights of our surrounding mountains.
Assessing what is important at this stage of one’s life really comes down to the basics. Health, family, friendships and life experiences. All the rest is soon to be outdated, worn out, or soon to be replaced by this season’s new trend.