Conscious Aging: Deciding What You Really Want

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few days deciding what I really want, what I like to do, what my priorities are over the course of a day or a week or longer. Everything I’m coming up with supports the notion of staying where I am, at least for now.

I like to work out, and staving off the physical and cognitive slowing down that comes with aging for as long as I can is hugely important. Right now I have a pretty good workout room in my building, and three times a week I walk to the Y. I usually go mid-morning, when things aren’t as crowded as they are before and after work. The Y is near the International District, which means that the exercise floor is often populated with older Asian ladies and a few men. They carry on animated conversations in languages I can’t understand and seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves, pushing and pulling on machines or stretching or balancing on one foot or jumping or hopping or whatever. For some reason their energy is infectious. They smile at me, even though we can’t converse. Recently I saw one tiny woman using a shoulder press machine in exactly the wrong way — she kept adding weight, rather than lessing it, and kept trying to push up. I was afraid she was going to hurt herself. I went over, and with hand gestures, motioned that I’d like to help her. I showed her how to back the weight off instead of putting more on, and then when she had the weight right, I put my hands under her elbows so she wouldn’t bring her arms down past 90 degrees. She looked delighted, and conveyed her appreciation with hand gestures and a twinkling smile. I was delighted too. It’s nice to be able to help someone.

I like to eat out. I think I might do that less in a place where two or three meals a day are including in the monthly fee. If the food is paid for, I might feel I ought to eat it. I got very tired of the food at the airport hotel in Panama City when Minga and I stayed there for five days. I might be very tired of the food in a place after five weeks or five months or five years.

I like to read, write my blog, have time with my grandchildren, and go to a movie or exhibit or lecture with a friend. I think if I rachet up my social outreach just a bit, I can muster up a few more people to do things with — even if my friend Louise moves into a retirement community that is different from any of the ones I’m looking at. I can also travel more to see friends, which I did to some extent over the last couple of years around book parties and enjoyed immensely.

Very helpful in all of this rumination was Sara and Matt’s assurance that despite their busy lives, if something untoward happens to me and I can’t make decisions myself, they will cope and not mind doing it. I was very glad for that, and think I have wonderful grown kids. 🙂

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