When I was young I feared death but never though my life clock was running out of time. Now that I am in my senior years I don’t fear death as much but I am aware that every day I am alive on earth is a day closer to death. It is highly unlikely that I will live more than 20 more years. That is the time it took from birth to adulthood. And of greater importance how many of those years will I be mobile and mentally active.
I can already feel the clock ticking as it become ever so slightly increasingly more difficult to get out of my chair or walk for long distances. I am already becoming slowly more absent minded and forgetting where I put things or finding the exit door in a doctors office after leaving the examination room. I know time is running out and that it is becoming more urgent that I do all the things I have always wanted to do. Life is changing (I should say deteriorating) more rapidly than I can adapt. I now know why it was so frustrating for my senior parents and aunts and uncles to adjust to their ever increasingly helpless condition so many years ago. We are like children developing in reverse. We have spent a lifetime of independence and are now becoming increasingly relegated to dependence upon our adult children and others. It is humiliating to admit to our increasing helplessness.
There are two paths I can take to deal with this situation. I can stubbornly fight it with all my might and will myself to stay young and independent or I can accept my fate and let nature take its course. But there really is a third choice, to do both but not to extremes. That is the choice I have consciously made though maintaining that middle ground as my body and mind continually become more burdensome is a difficult balancing act. I have my good days as well as my bad. Some days I simply don’t want to get out of bed and others when I want to take a challenging hike. Some days I have no idea of what to write on this blog and others where my mind is full of fresh ideas that I simply have to create a number of new post titles and write as much as I can and save as drafts to be finished later.
I now have to spend more effort taking care of myself. My objective is not to live a long as possible but to extend the time I have available to be mobile and mentally alert. Thus diet and exercise are important. My treatment for cancer about 3-4 years ago (see The End of Life or Beginning of Living?) have taken its toll upon me and I’m sure shortened my life and likely the time available to do the things I want to do before I decline into total dependency. I do a lot of stretching and balance exercises since I notice that I am less flexible than before and feel more unsteady especially when going up and down stairs. I also go to the gym a couple of times a week to burn some calories and keep my cardio healthy on the elliptical and stationary bikes and also try my hand at some of the other mechanical gadgets for body strength. I take brisk walk every morning as well as shorter brisk walks during the day. I time my walks to gauge whether I am improving or slowing down. I’ll try to keep this up as long as I can to keep fit. I do feel better when keeping to a good exercise regiment. My kids gave me a Basis sports watch that keeps track of my daily activities and tells me how well I am doing. I have found this very useful in keeping me on my toes and active. I am hoping these efforts will keep me mobile as long as possible but I know I’m running out of time.
As for diet I now eat a lot of raw mixed vegetable salads using olive oil mixed with some spices my wife puts together. Sometime we add slices of chicken or pork but most of the time its only vegetables. We eat salad almost daily often as our main meal and about once a week all our meals are salads and fresh fruits. I also eat a lot of fish and organic chicken cooked in a soup. My wife removes all the fat and skin. I’m getting used to this diet and am starting to enjoy it. Fortunately my wife is an excellent and health conscious cook. Snacks often consist of raw of roasted unsalted almond and occasionally I spoil myself with roasted corn nuts.
I enjoy going on hikes about once or twice a week and occasionally traveling. But much of my time is spent on the computer and internet as well as writing this blog. I’ve also been contacting some very old friends that I lost contact with and am engaged in some social activities. It is so important in your old age to keep both body and mind active. The work and efforts are well worth the investment, at least for now. There is some pain and inconvenience associated with these activities but nothing is gained by sitting all day waiting to die. For now life seems well worth living and investing time to keep on going. But at the same time I am acutely aware that I am running out of time. Life is so fragile and anything can happen. Having had cancer has taught me that lesson. So life goes on, at least for now.