Tag Archives: aging

Out of the Clouds

Sometimes I am clueless. I say and think some very silly things. And it’s not age-related. It’s really not. I’ve been gullible since childhood, the one who blushed easily, the one boys loved to tease. It takes me a while, sometimes, to get what’s going on.
Last week I had a “procedure” (not surgery) on my left eye, to correct some cloudiness that had amassed behind the artificial lens I got when I had cataract surgery a few years ago. This took only a minute and didn’t hurt, as it was done by laser.
But when I woke up the next morning I thought, my God, that eye treatment must have been more intense than I thought! I was looking in the mirror at the time, and I looked awful, as if I’d aged ten years overnight.
Much later in the day, I realized what had happened. (You’ve probably already figured it out, but as I said, I’m often slow to get the joke.) My left eye wasn’t cloudy anymore, and I could finally see my face as it was.
The procedure was successful, and I was old, no getting around it.

Since then, I’ve avoided mirrors.  In some ways, I was happier in the clouds—also known as denial.

Ai Chi Again, and Again

I love water!

I’ve been going to ai chi  three times a week since January.  It’s kind of funny that I hurry up to get there so I can relax—like that old military saying, “Hurry up and wait.” But I do love it.
The best moment is when I first step into the warm water—aaah.
The second best is when everyone falls silent, and we begin with simple breathing. Inhale, and the palms of our hands are up. Exhale, down. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.
Then a small step further, to Floating, gently lowering the hands on the exhale. Full inhale, pulling hands up almost to the surface Full exhale, letting them drift down.

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Melting slowly into the sequence of postures: Embracing the Moon, hands form a circle under water, make a gentle slow figure eight. The importance of balance.
Full Moon, reaching up to one side stretching arms, looking up, feeling the stretch down the side of the body. Then turn, other side.
Nurturing. Facing right, right foot in front, push exhale out, draw inhale deeply in, with arms, push out again. Slow. Quiet. Don’t make a wake.
Now nurturing to left, same movement, left foot front.

And so on.  I begin to feel like a ballet dancer–fulfilling a childhood dream, to an extent.  But no one is correcting or criticizing.  Our instructor guides us, but each of us goes at her own pace.  I focus on my movements, refine them myself.

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My favorite might be Freeing, when we stretch to the back, arms wide open, then turn to one side, then wide open in front, and to the other side,and again to the back.

I am watching my hands in the water, these familiar hands, and on the inside they look just as they did when I was a child in school.
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I feel graceful, calm, balanced.

Age-Related Amnesia? All Things Come to Those Who Wait!

Oh God, who was that person?

The other day I was at the grocery store when I passed a woman who smiled and said, “Hi! How are you?”

I had no idea who she was. I knew that I knew her though, and even knew that I liked her. But how did I know her? And how well? How often did I see her, and where? No idea.

It’s a horrible feeling, to be staring at someone’s friendly face and wondering, Who are you?

“What have you been up to?” she asked me.

Does she know a lot about me, or a little? Have we talked about our lives? I chose a vague, neutral response: “Oh, you know, getting over Christmas.”

She agreed. She was too.

“It’s nice to be out without the kids,” she continued.

Oh! She had kids! Young? Older? Did I know their names? Had I met them? I just smiled, nodded.  I still didn’t know who she was.

Although I might be tempted to blame this temporary amnesia on my advanced age, I can’t, really, because it’s been happening to me occasionally for the last ten or even fifteen years. I’ll run into someone unexpectedly, in public. They know me. They’re glad to see me. And I can’t place them.

It’s embarrassing and confusing—waiting for a clue, keeping up a front, smiling while inside I’m in a state of panic.

I’ve had this happen a lot with former students. I don’t worry so much about that; in seventeen years of teaching English to international students, I’ve taught a lot of people. They meant a lot to me—but I can’t possibly remember every face, every name.

This woman at Kroger though—I had to figure it out! After she left, I finished shopping, went home, and put away my groceries, all the while working on the puzzle of who she was. As I said, I knew that I liked her, that we had conversed in a semi-intimate way.

I took some deep breaths. I tried to think of all the places I frequented in town, where I would have had a friendly, speaking relationship with an employee. Was she a nurse at my doctor’s office? I didn’t think so. But someone like a nurse.

I spent about an hour and a half letting my mind search around for the answer, and trusting my intuition.  I knew it was in there somewhere.

Then, suddenly: the dentist’s office! She’s the hygienist!  That’s got to be it. And luckily, I’ve got a cleaning appointment in a week, so I can confirm it—I hope.

If I stay calm, I can usually find the answer to these puzzles—including the classic, “Now what did I come in the kitchen for?”