Conscious Aging: Thinking about Vulnerability

I definitely need a new construct for thinking about the vulnerabilities of aging. Right now it feels as if I’m walking through a heavily wooded forest. Trees are falling with a thud around me, not on me yet, but I know my luck won’t indefinitely hold.

That’s a bad way to anticipate the future. I know it, and so says the book I’m reading by Barbara Bradley Hagerty, Life Re-Imagined. Hagerty has a Christian Science background so she’s very big into how the way we think affects everything, including our health. But she backs up her learned predilection with neutral science.

The trees falling are the number of people dear to me who have died recently, or are coping with really serious, life-threatening illness.

I recall my mother dealing with this when she moved into an independent living facility. She was part of the “croak patrol”, a committee whose members went to check on a resident who hadn’t been seen for a day or two. Margaret was often funny when she didn’t intend to be. I asked her if service on this particular committee wasn’t a bit depressing, as they often found the missing resident dead or nearly so. She looked at me with annoyance. “It’s not depressing if it isn’t me.”

A college friend my age says she thinks of it as simply random bad luck, not connected with age. But surely there is more of “it”, however we conceptualize the vulnerability of people in our age cohort, than there was earlier on?

I read a lot, so I know much of the literature around ” aging with grace” and accepting that life doesn’t go on forever and yadda yadda yadda. I have wonderful exemplars — Minga — of doing just that under very difficult conditions.

But I’m still hearing those thuds as I walk along my life path, and I need a different way to think about them. Your thoughts are welcome.

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