My sisters and I drove up to Landrum, SC for the weekend to visit our grandma. She lives alone in a spacious, immaculate house. She has a plus-sized cat for company, and she is often in pain. These days, she can’t even walk around the block. When we go downtown or to the mall, she spends most of the time sitting on a bench. It’s depressing. She wants to have fun, but her back is a mess. Degenerative discs, pinched nerves, sciatica, arthritis; you name it, she’s suffering from it.
I don’t want to write my grandma as a cautionary tale, but it’s hard not to think about how she got this way. Poor nutrition? Smoking? Lack of exercise? Stress and anxiety? She’s 78. Not young, but not so old that I can just invoke Bette Davis: Getting old isn’t for sissies. No. My friend Megs says getting old is inevitable, and I should just relax and accept it. And sure, I may have an unhealthy fear of mortality, ahem, but what does getting old really mean?
My next birthday will put me solidly in what they call middle age, so I’m thinking long-term. How can we make the best of the lives we have? What can we do to rehab, maintenance, and preserve these creaky ships?
Here comes an(other) unqualified opinion: it seems to me the best thing you can do for yourself is to use your time well, and surround yourself with people you love and enjoy. How do you spend the hours of your day? Doing something you dislike, surrounded by assholes? If so, first fix that. The second thing we need to do is to exercise. It’s a simple use-it-or-lose-it equation. Our heart needs to work, and our other muscles need to work, and we need to stretch, and send blood and nourishment to our spines, organs, and brains. We need to relax and simplify and be happy with ourselves. I think you know where I’m going with this. Yoga is really part of a complete breakfast. Stick with your practice, and at the least your back should stay healthy. Then you can walk around a shitty mall with your grandkids in 2052, bitching about the wretched excess. Just like now!