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.