Simple Wisdom

In the mornings when I head out for my walk with Magic and Molly, we often stop to chat with my next door neighbor. He’s usually out in front of his house, watering some plants, waiting for his daughter in law to drop one-year old Jackson off for Papa to babysit while she’s at work.

This morning he was waiting for a repairman to come and service his automatic garage door, which seemed to have come off its rails.

“I was out here until 1:00 in the morning trying to fix it,” he told me. “I finally had to give up. Aggravates me when I can’t fix a thing myself. It was just too darn hot and I couldn’t stand on that ladder any more.” He sighed. “My daughter needs me to fix her car, too,” he lamented. “Needs a new motor, ’n I don’t think I can lay underneath a car long enough to put that in. My back just won’t take that kind of thing any more.”

He was silent for a moment, and then looked at me. “It’s not that I don’t want to do it,” he said, “but when you get older there’s a big difference between wantin’ to do something, and being able to do something.”

“You’re right about that,” I said, thinking about how tired my own back was from sitting at the piano bench for four hours the night before in the (non) air-conditioned church where I’m rehearsing for Joseph (and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). I love the music in this show, and it’s easy to play ~ I wanted to play for this production. After all, I had a great time when  I played for the show once before in this very same church.

But that was 15 years ago.

I was 40 years old.

And no matter what I’d like to believe about 60 being the new 40 – well, let’s just say my back and slightly arthritic fingers aren’t going along with that program.

It’s not that I can’t do it.

But there’s no doubt that it’s harder than it was the first time around, back in 1996. When I think about rehearsing from 6-10 p.m. for the next five nights and then doing three performances of the show next weekend, I take a deep breath (and a big swallow of Chardonnay).

I suppose we all want to believe we’re capable of doing the kinds of things we’ve always done, no matter what our age. And when I think about my seventy year old friend who is producing this show, I feel ridiculous for having any qualms about my own fortitude.

But I think there is some wisdom in my neighbor’s simple comment. We need to temper our desires with a dose of reality and common sense.

That’s actually pretty good advice no matter what your age.

Meanwhile, I’ll just keep the lyrics from one of my favorite “Joseph” songs running through my head..

“We all dream a lot, some are lucky, some are not. But if you dream it, want it, feel it, it is real. You are what you feel.”

For the next week, I’ll dream that I’m 40 again.

Wish me luck.



10 thoughts on “Simple Wisdom

  1. May the force and stamina be with you….and why hasn’t someone come up with a better solution than a backless piano bench?…

  2. Good luck Becca! I commiserate….. It is so darn hard to be 27 in my head (somehow I got stuck there) and 58 in my body. grrrrrrrrrrrr
    My mom, who is 78, is starting to slow down, and it really irritates her too. The sad truth of life. I am working on appreciating the things I CAN do now that I couldn’t before. They are more mental and emotional than physical, but I’ll take what I can get!
    Sounds like you should invent that perfect bench!

    • My mom is 85 and really having some difficulties with not being physically able to do all her favorite things – like gardening and shopping. She gets mad about it, but tries to look at the positive – she’s still in her home, and pretty independent otherwise.
      It’s tough at any age!

  3. My wife called her sister in Texas the other day just to chat. We are from Texas originally but wound up in SC. We do not miss Houston Texas but we do miss friends and family. Anyway, I got on the phone with my sister in law to say howdy and chat for a few moments. We are both on the healthy living/weight loss path. She told me that growing old is not for sissies. LOL I had to laugh at that but there is a lot of truth in it. I am reminded of this when I go to the gym 4 times per week. Here I am doing the best I can on the treadmill and elliptical trainer. I never expect to be what I once was. I know I will never run 10 miles again. I have to remind myself that I should not compare myself to the younger more in shape folks all around me who make me look silly. All I can do is what I can do today. The important thing is that I am trying. That puts me light years ahead of those who are not even trying. Every day is a gift from God and we should cherish every day that we get.

  4. It’s the heat I notice more than anything – of course, if I would just get with the program – any program! – and get some weight off, it would help. Still, working in the afternoons isn’t something I do any more unless I’m in the shade. I do fine up to about 90-92 degrees – more than that, and I”m a sweaty mess.

    On the other hand, I asked my doctor once how long I should anticipate being able to varnish. He just laughed and said, “As long as you keep doing it, you should be able to do it as long as you want.” There it is – some of the best advice in the world. Physical and mental activity is one of the best ways, if not the best way, to stay physically and mentally active!

    • That is so true. My father in law was out gardening full tilt just weeks before he died, and he was 92. We worried about him some, especially in the heat, but we figured he would rather die doing what he enjoyed than lie around in the air conditioning for an extra year or so doing nothing.

  5. I know what you mean about feeling aches we might not have felt 15 years ago. Even kneeling down on the floor and getting up again isn’t as easy as it once was, and I know my fingers aren’t as smooth as they once were on the piano. However after making the acquaintance of an 83 year old woman from Manhatten this weekend I am inspired. She is witty and wise with the accrual of her years, a beacon of hope for all of us.

  6. Oh My, all these comments really hit home for us geezer folks, a term I use playfully. I know the whole “want to do it” quite often gets overruled by the body’s inadequacies. I have always been fit and stayed in shape with basketball and racquetball and running and then one by one they all dropped out. Too much running on pavement for so many years restricts me to the treadmill and one too many overhead smashes in racquetball led to a couple of surgeries. So now I just do what I can at the gym and stay active in every other way I can. The fact that my mind still thinks I’m 25 sure does get shut down quickly when my body tries to act like it.

    Just keep on doing whatever you can do a day at a time and enjoy it. A nice glass of Cabernet is a good match for that Chardonnay, Cheers!

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