Many people pretend they bathe daily in the Fountain of Youth. While the delusion may be soothing, the gap between self-image and reality can have serious consequences as it did for me on the McCloud River. A six mile stretch of this wild northern California river is owned by the Nature Conservancy. To keep the …
Depending upon a mind damaged by a stroke for dividing a restaurant check. It’s relying on walking sticks for weekly hikes rather than cursing the path’s elevation. It’s checking your Iphone frequently for appointments rather than assuming you remembered them. It’s limiting your driving to daylight hours as night vision diminishes. And an endless number of other embarrassments each of us can list.
For me, adaptation meant I stopped struggling and allowed my feet to slide off the rocks onto flat gravel beds. I remained erect when I did that. And that was the lesson, not only for the rest of my fishing trip, but also for aging. Stop struggling and adapt.
With age, we have a tendency to do activities as we did them when younger, even though our bodies and minds are screaming for something different. We often persist because of vanity, disbelief in the aging process, or the hope by trying a little harder, success is possible.
Vanity could have been disastrous for me. Disbelief I was aging placed me in an unrealistic position. Hoping if I just tried harder I could remain upright, was leading me to a possible drowning. It’s the middle ground—adaptation—that worked on the McCloud and it’s adaptation that’s one of the keys to successful aging.
The take-away? Many of the things we cherish may become difficult as we age. Struggling to maintain them as if we were twenty years younger can lead to failure or disaster. Refraining from doing them will produce unhappiness. But modifying how things are done as we age, results in neither having to give up what we love nor struggling to maintain it.
I’m not ready to fish with worms and talk about a glorified but improbable past. I just need to allow my feet and life to land on firm ground.