Traverse City Record-Eagle

Body & Soul

March 23, 2013

Learning and yearning at any age

While spending time with a large number of retired people, I began to re-examine the phrases “aging with grace” and “aging gracefully.”

My question arose because I began to realize how difficult it can be to enter this stage of life “gracefully.” The more I considered the phrases, the better I realized a number of writers have heard about the difficulties of aging and have chosen to write about the inevitable challenges this period presents.

One of the greatest challenges is the realization that the period of life we refer to as “aging” brings with it all the patterns and playbooks we have used earlier in our lives. But these formerly useful tools may not be the ones most needed now.

Earlier this year, my poem “Change,” appeared in a small journal. I tried to capture some of the feelings deep within a man as he ages.

“Change,” roared the dragon “is the name of the game.

It’s the pattern, the Torah, the way to explain,

The secret, deep in the plan — that ferries the boy

To the world of the man.

“But, it’s lonely, awesome, and fraught with doubt

And once I’m in, is there any way out?

Is there a window, a door, a way to escape?

Is it okay to cry or scream, or maybe go late?

“There is a time and there is a way

And you’ll know it — when you say —

‘Enough of this — too little of that

I must move forward — I can’t go back.’

“When you tremble and doubt — and wrestle each day

And suddenly realize you’re on the way

And then you look back — and wake up and know

You had to move forward — sometimes fast, sometimes slow.”

Patterns, priorities and perspectives change.

Some days are structured around chosen activities and others are built on medical necessities and the natural challenges of age.

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