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Self-Care Tip #241 – As long as life chooses you, it is your right to choose back – so do.
Although I am not a geriatric psychiatrist, I have still been given the pleasure of serving a “golden” few. What has impressed me has been their willingness to start over.
Starting over takes courage and humility whether it is deliberate or not. Sometimes fear dances between the lines of all the emotions and intentions. But still, wouldn’t you agree that it takes courage and humility to negotiate fear?
(Enters Hans.) Hans was seventy-three years old. He had struggled with brain illness on and off he thinks since he was at least twelve. There were big spaces of time when his disease exacerbated, and he largely suffered. But he chose, at this age, to try again for improved brain health.
Is there a time when we start thinking, don’t keep trying to start over? Maybe in the dying process. In case you don’t know, the dying process is a specific term. It means the time when a person is facing impending death.
This area of medicine is not my specialty but I imagine at some point we want to stop with that starting over process, give up, but not in a hopeless way. In a way that says,
I can stop trying for new anything and sit in the space of what I already have in me…
…Which hopefully includes all the ingredients and interrelations of life.
But how far before that point in life do we consider starting over reasonable? I’ve heard of kids being told they’re too young to ride a bike, or cut with a knife, or understand the dinner conversation. No one bobs their head at that. But find a seventy-three year old who believes that after a lifetime of perceived failure by onlookers or themselves, who still says,
Now let’s give this another go,
…and if it hasn’t been said, it’s been thought,
give it over already! You’ve hit your seventy-times-seven chances!
It’s like they’re shopping in the teen-ware. We blink our eyes and angle our heads. Even the thought of starting over as a real option feels indiscreet.
(Enters Hans.) Hans is seventy-three. He is starting over. Humbly and with courage, he pursues brain health in the face of stigma.
I think I had celebrated my six birthday when my dad asked me if I felt any different from how I felt when I was five.
Yes! I feel older!
Then he asked me how old I thought he was. When I answered some enormous number like, “twenty-two!” he asked,
Does forty-four seem old to you?
Of course it did! But I had an intuition that if he was old, than he’d die, so I said a definitive,
NO! Daddy you’re still young! You aren’t old!
Now, almost that same age myself, I am in awe of him and the others in their golden or not so golden years (Enters Hans) who believe that as long as life chooses them, they will choose back. It is their freedom.
Questions: When all your senses don’t sense pleasure in life, or you feel old and useless, or you feel that you’ve failed too many times, how do you choose to start over? Who has inspired you and what did they do? Please tell me your story.