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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Confronting your limitations

You can stand here and there, in museums and parks, wonder at the talent and power of inspiration in front of you, and can either get discouraged or be inspired. When you are young, and have your whole life in front of you, these encounters show you possibilities and new horizons.

When you are old, new encounters make you confront your limitations, allow you to consider the options you might have in front of you.

How long will it take to do this? Do I have the skills? Have I done this kind of work before? What will I create that is uniquely mine? What will it cost to produce? Do I have the physical skills to do this?

Most of us know a great deal about commitment and drive and ambition. Our entire lives have been spent at work and raising families, balancing all tasks and deadlines so one or the other did not suffer. All of our lives we confronted challenges and we stood up and faced them with grace.
All of our lives we were judged by how well we took up new tasks and grew with each step.

But growing old teaches us something else entirely.

We learn almost overnight that tomorrow will not bring more opportunities. People around us remind us just how difficult it will be to use our bodies the way we did. We can't walk as far; can't stand as long; can't drive much after dark.

We know that this moment might just be the best we'll have.

Tasks we did automatically, are now done reflectively. We count on our hands the things we need to have before we leave the house: keys, glasses, phone, snack, purse...
We use devices to remind us to turn off the stove, unplug the iron, take our meds...

When our children visit us we make extra efforts to get to clean the house the way we used to; that clutter has been removed, lest they think we are slipping away. (I do know that a cleaning service for Christmas would be the best present ever!)

We turn down invitations because we are afraid of driving at night; or, of not being able to digest the food they serve; or, falling asleep in the middle of a conversation; or....

And then there is the matter of finances.
That topic alone can keep us worrying most nights.

17 comments:

mxtodis123 said...

Oh how I loved this post. I was just saying to my hubby awhile ago that there was a time that I walked this entire city and now I am lucky if I can make it three blocks without pain setting in somewhere. Things that I used to love doing I had to give up.

And then there are things that I always wanted to do that I now have time for. I've no artistic talent whatsoever but have always wanted to draw and paint. So I recently picked up a sketch book, ordered a free book on my Kindle on drawing simple things in nature, and am ready to give it a try. Who knows if I can do it, but I'm giving it a try.

Eva Gallant said...

This is so true! I hate driving at night now, and i just can't seem to keep up with cleaning the house like I once did!

Eva Gallant said...

This is so true! I hate driving at night now, and i just can't seem to keep up with cleaning the house like I once did!

Brian Miller said...

so nothing changes on the finances...smiles...def on being inspired or realizing limitations...i imagine the limitations being rather frustrating...

Kathleen McCoy said...

Oh, my, Rosaria! We are SO on the same page! I have been thinking so much lately of aging and limitations and the very different expectations we have of the future now that we're getting older. I find myself thinking a lot about long-term care insurance vs. a continuing care community. Of course, one needs to make the decision for both when one is still relatively healthy and hearty. So different from the future planning we used to do!

Helen said...

Rosaria, you articulate what so many people our age fret over! And you do it with grace, intelligence. I try not to dwell, but do some days, in spite of myself.

yaya said...

My Mom (age 87) is realizing that driving is now off limits, but is having a bit of a hard time accepting that. I'm nursing a sore knee that has limited my walking this year and I'm finding it so frustrating. Driving at night is becoming more of a challenge for my husband. It happens faster than we can blink...time and age. Some days I look in the mirror and say "Hey, who are you?"

Linda Myers said...

We're all in this together, I guess.

Tom Sightings said...

I don't have to worry about driving at night anymore. We're usually getting ready for bed by 7 p.m.!

ds said...

Yes, the limitations are difficult, but surely there can still be opportunities? Answers I shall face in the no longer so distant future. Finances always a worry…sigh…but I love the way you see things clearly, and with grace.

The Broad said...

I so know what you are writing about! In particular I worry about keeping fit enough to walk -- and climb stairs. So I try to make myself walk into town every day just to keep the old joints from seizing up. So many things seem to take such an effort! On Friday night we are having friends over for dinner and they will stay the night -- now I know that when the time comes it will be fine -- but right now just thinking about the effort of having to have a conversation makes me think I need to take a nap!

the walking man said...

I hate having the will and want but not the ability anymore. I would give anything for my 21 year old thumb,legs and back.

ellen abbott said...

well, that's one thing I don't have to worry about, cleaning the house the way I 'used' to. if the kids come and find clutter, well then, all is normal. but yes, many things have to be reconsidered as we age. and finances is scary even for the best prepared of us. I try not to worry about it too much since I'm already doing what I can and can't change things really at this point.

Becky Jerdee said...

Oh, no kidding! I was manning the office at church before and after service when someone leaned over the counter and said to me, "I belong to the 'used to' club now. There's never a conversation that passes between us that doesn't contain the phrase, 'I used to...'"

musicwithinyou said...

Even with my new limitations (my back, eyes, aches)
I keep trying to find ways around it. I'm scared one of these days I will give in and let my new limitations win.

troutbirder said...

Yikes this is all bad news. I think I'll start looking for The Fountain Of Youth.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosaria .. somehow we need to adapt and accept gracefully as things become more challenging - I learnt the art of relinquishing gracefully via my uncles and my mother .. I sincerely hope when my turn comes I can do the same ..

Cheers Hilary