GETTING OLD VS. GETTING SICK

What do you think about getting sick? Have you ever been sick? I mean ever? I’m sure we’ve all experienced illness at some time. Do you remember any of those times? Why do you remember those specific times? Is it because they were recent, or maybe because you were knocked on your butt by whatever it was?

I have a hard time remembering when I was last sick. That’s probably because I have a pretty strong immune system, so when I get sick it isn’t very intense, nor does it last long. Lucky me!

getting sick sucks.

I felt aawwful…

Well, that is until recently… like very recently… like I’m still fighting this last one. (Or was when I wrote this a month ago. More about that in my next blog.)

Another question.

Do you ever daydream about getting a little sick…

so you could just sit home and get a couple of books read, catch up on calls to friends and family, or work on a hobby?

I have!

It seems there are so many things I want to do, that when I prioritize them, things get left out. If some of my obligations could just be forced out of my schedule by my being sick, why then I could take time to do some of the lower-priority activities on my list.

There are two ways this has panned out for me. If I only get a touch of something then it doesn’t really make much difference in my activity level. BUT when I get clobbered by something, when I get knocked on my butt, I don’t feel like doing those things I’ve been looking forward to taking time for. Food doesn’t taste the same, my body has no energy, neither my brain nor my eyes are capable of focus for very long. And God forbid I have a hacking cough! As an aging woman that brings on its own set of issues.

So then, am I saying there are parallels between getting sick and getting old? Maybe. And maybe more than we want to admit.

Do you ever daydream about getting a little older…

so you could just sit home and get a couple of books read, catch up on calls to friends and family, or work on a hobby?

Not me!

But I must admit there are things I think I will have time for eventually. I need to make sure those things are not high on my REAL priorities list. I take advantage of how good I feel now to do the things I want to do now. And I have to remind myself that this is my choice, or I might have a tendency to just go with the existing inertia.

Old, not sick!

Getting old?

How many of us assume we will always feel good enough to keep doing what we want to do, without putting specific attention to ensuring that ability to feel good?

Getting sick and getting old sure can have some things in common. When we take care of ourselves and live our lives as though we have some say about them (body, mind and spirit) we get more out of the now.

When we stay in practice with what we want to be able to do, we’re more likely to be able to continue doing those things into old age. If we put them off, we will quite possibly not be able to reestablish the ability we need in order to enjoy doing them.

We don’t get to know for sure how we will respond to our aging bodies… or to getting sick.

For example, with this latest cold I was so miserable I started worrying that maybe I had something REAL serious. I had a hard time getting anything done. I slept poorly, I hurt, I took forever to feel better.

By comparison, when I was diagnosed in 2013 with malignant melanoma I was an efficiency machine! I decided what I needed, what I needed to do, asked for it, and got it. My diet, my sleep, my exercise program, my outdoor time, my spiritual support system, support of various kinds from my most loved ones, all ramped up into a humming living energy. No real worry, no real anxiety. Barely skipped a beat.

The outcome was exceptional and life-affirming. No radiation, no chemo, cancer all gone. I had virtually no down time!

So for me, the moral of this little observational experience is that

we owe it to ourselves to do the best we can, while and when we can.

I find myself looking for the lessons in everything. I work at discerning when to call “bulls**t!” on myself, my rationalizations, my procrastinations.

So, just as we can often have an effect on how we get sick, we can have an effect on how we get old.
Just as we can practice being more present and less irritable when we get sick, we can practice being more present and more compassionate as we get old.

And either way, we owe it to ourselves to remember to have fun or, as Joseph Campbell said, “to follow our bliss.” Unless we know what makes us fully present in this world, fully present to the joy that is our birthright, we won’t recognize it when it shows up.

So recognize it, pursue it, and live it…with as little down time as possible!


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