I remember the first time I was called "Ma'am". I remember the first grey hair..way back in the day; followed by a grey eyelash and don't think I don't know what is coming. When you are told that you are a stroke survivor, your first impulse is to call your neurologist a dirty, stinking liar but then you remember it took six months to get the appointment, so you check it. Ditto when your cardiologist tells you that you have a small hole in your heart and it might make sense to "plug that right up." This is what aging looks like for me. Up close and personal it has a grit to it that I thought I could escape.
Here is some of my history: I started running when I was 12 because my parents were divorcing and I thought maybe I could outrun that. I played a little ball and skied down a few mountains and figured out I was an athlete. In college, I found a bike. Soon, I dropped out of college and explored whether I was good enough to make the Olympics. Not even close but I never regretted trying. I moved North and found some mountains. Climbing them led me to my husband and to a deep reverence for the sacred energy found on a lead climb when your gear is sketchy and you are in way over your head. More skiing, some back country sojourns (one of which was so very close to being deadly), whitewater adventures, kayaking and then time to learn soccer. The gist of all this is a life lived physically. No need for a lot of contemplation. I was too damn tired and sore.
Then, the thing that had always served me so well went wonky. I started having neurological symptoms that nobody could figure out. My first neurologist blamed my symptoms on my 5 previous concussions and started lecturing me on Mohammad Ali. I developed auto immune difficulties and am the proud owner of "inflamed status." Anyone could have told you that, really. Then the stroke, caused by the PFO, then the closure and here I am, aging with grace.
Nobody is immune but nobody thinks all this stuff is going to land in their holy temple. I am standing on shaky ground. Then it hits me, we are all standing on shaky ground, courtesy of Samsara and lifetimes of going round and round. Maybe it is a blessing to know it.
As an aside, this whole post was born out of a buddy telling me that I looked good "for my age."