Monday, May 21, 2012

Real Life Tao - Standing Down

Trey Smith

One of the hallmarks of growing old is meeting face-to-face with major life changes. In some instances, it is the ending of a long-term relationship and, possibly, the start of a new one. There can be big changes in a person's work life such as retirement or "starting over." And, of course, there is the challenge of coming to grips with the physical, emotional and mental aspects of growing old.

As I've mentioned previously -- I'm sure you'll read a lot of ruminations on this topic in the coming weeks or months -- certain parts of my body seem to be giving out. My left hip doesn't seem to be improving and so I'm having to deal with greatly diminished mobility. For a fellow who likes to putter around, this situation is challenging, to say the least!

I am finding it difficult to stand for more than a minute and this is true even when I try to bear 90% of my weight on the right side. Walking with a cane is becoming difficult, so we've rented a walker with 4 wheels that has a bench. In public, I use the walker for a while (like a few feet!) and then I have to sit down. Around the house, I sit on the bench and use my feet to push me along from here to there.

I'm still able to hop up the stairs, but must come down the stairs on my butt. Getting in and out of the bathtub is a chore. Preparing meals and washing the dishes isn't half as easy as it used to be. In two short weeks, I've gone from a bloke who limped around to someone who can barely walk.

I don't write this looking for sympathy. It is what it is. Each of us must face many challenges in life and this just happens to be my current challenge.

I must say, though, that the Taoist philosophy is helping me to deal with my situation. In the past, I might have tried to force my expectations on the situation. I may well have tried to force myself to keep walking, only to suffer increasing agony and further damage to my hip and leg.

Though I'm not happy with the predicament I find myself in, I am listening to my body without attaching expectations from the mind. I am not trying to will myself in one direction or the other. I am sitting back to allow my body to tell me where it is that we're going.

When my hip says, "Stop!" I stop. When it says, "Go!" I go. And when it says, "Rest," I rest.

Hopefully, in a few days, I'll go to my doctor to listen to what he has to say.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.

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