You Don’t Get to Keep It All: Reality Check

Feb 21, 2021 | Anatomy, Age | 9 comments

Image of a white-haired woman doing plank pose , balancing on her forearms and feet.

‘You don’t get to keep everything you came into the world with.’

I came across this quote a while back and it clicked for me as I crossed the threshold into being a 70 year old. Maybe I saw it in the week that I had appointments to see my eye doctor, my physiotherapist and my orthopedist. Pick any week now and there’s likely to be at least one medico/therapist appointment in my calendar.

Whether you’re a young person or an older one like me, little by little your capabilities and your senses will begin to deteriorate. Count yourself ‘lucky’ if you’ve avoided life-threatening disease or if you’ve beaten back such an enemy. We are able to be more victorious over disease these days because of modern medicine. Many people live with a disease such as cancer or diabetes for many long years because of advances in drugs and therapies.

Still… we might as well get used to what is looming. Along with ageing, there will likely be surgeries, presbyopia, hearing losses, osteoarthritis, muscle wastage and more.

This is the arc of life, with a peak somewhere in there, but for the most part, we miss it.

When you look in the mirror today, you could say to yourself, ‘Gawd, you are looking beautiful.’ You might as well admire today’s presentation because next week you will look slightly altered. As I did yesterday when I noticed my hair had ‘suddenly’ become greyer than I ever remembered. (If you can, avoid using the expression ‘for your age’. That will negate the little bit of self-love you generated when you complimented yourself.)

I came across a video recording of a yoga presentation I did as a 50 year old. I can see how cocky I was then. There was something of the superwoman in my demeanour. I was oblvious to the menopause heading my way and that was just around the corner. Not to mention a hysterectomy, double hip surgery and the general weakening of senses–all of them still in my future. Intellectually I knew I wasn’t immortal, but I still believed I was so on top of things.

It would seem that we would be better served with more preparation for and embracing of ageing, If we were really in touch with the fact that there are going to be losses, we could keep a lighter grip on our identities. We could avoid trying so hard to get back to who we remember ourselves to be.

This doesn’t mean becoming complacent about taking care ourselves or capitulating to being old before our time. Let us keep up our yoga practices, play bowls and tennis, do dance and barre classes. And at the same time being realistic and making peace with that beautiful person in the mirror.

We can take heart from this encouraging BBC article which states:

Growing old has been synonymous with bodily decay since ancient times. The Greeks had a particularly dire view – many saw ageing itself as a disease. Yet the latest scientific research suggests ageing isn’t a straightforward decline after all.  Life peaks later than you might think. There’s mounting evidence that old age brings happiness, intellect and even better sex.

9 Comments

  1. Thank you Eve …. a lovely reminder

    Reply
  2. I can so relate Eve to your story.
    I actually find myself having to accept ageing as a natural decaying of the body that “houses” the soul which hopefully truly is eternal.

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  3. Dear Eve

    I follow your blog and enjoy the wisdom you provide.

    I have been practicing Iyengar yoga for 30 years (not every day) and have been teaching Hatha to over 50’s for a decade.

    In December 2020 a health issue surfaced and whilst it was investigated the ultarsound picked up thickness in the uterus. Day surgery, luckily benign but I have to deal with the prolapse of a pelvic floor organ every day. My eyesight got worse, the script has changed dramatically – so I know what to do you mean by ageing and loss. I feel a loss and disappointment as I thought I was in reasonable shape for ‘my age – 63’ 🙂
    It is good to have a voice for older yogis! All the best
    Mary

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  4. So timely Eve, I have been thinking a lot about this lately!

    Liz Williams (Yoga for Seniors and nurse educator) addressed the last yoga therapy conference that I attended. The auditorium was filled with beautifully fit, healthy, equanimous yoga teachers. She commenced with “lock the doors, because you are not going to like what you are about to hear”. In her wonderfully straight-talking way, Liz listed all the processes that occur as we get along in life, pointing out that everyone in the room would experience most of them. (Some of us felt a little less equanimous at that stage).

    Sometimes I think of that talk when I look at what’s going on with my collagen, feel my joints and search for my glasses. Strangely the knowledge makes me more comfortable in my less-taught skin. We’re all in it together, we do the best with what we’ve got and ageing is a gift if you consider the alternative.

    “Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.” David Bowie

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  5. Thanks Eve. I find much loss of people and those day to day things that particular times in my life brought. As the years roll by there is always so much loss. Being able to be with that is such deep work for me

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  6. Reaching 70 last year was good to do, but my husband reminds me constantly, that we were only destined to live three score years and ten. One day at a time.. best we can do. We can’t maintain all parts of our body equally. Something has to be neglected! 😘

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    • That number, three score and ten has definitely been updated, Susan. Women in Australia will live on average to 82. Better stay fit, as much as we can!
      Kind regards….

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  7. Hi Eve, clear, honest & straightforward words about exactly how it is! So good to renew acquaintances recently with you and all you represent. Regards to Daniel & love to you! S

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    • Thanks for the encouragement, Steve. It’s hard to talk about things that are deemed not positive–age, disease, death.
      But they are every bit a part of life as youth and birth and achievement.
      xx
      Eve

      Reply

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