Feeling rather philosophical lately. In a few weeks I will reach four score. I now completely understand when ‘old folks’ say, “how did I get this old this fast?” That cold draft I felt blowing across my shoulders was time! Time used to be an abstract but as the years flew by, the word ‘time’ took on an almost physical presence. As we age, we slowly begin to notice changes within ourselves:- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I like to think of it as growing rather than aging. We continue to grow until we don’t!
Writing The Sand Clock was important for me. As I aged and accumulated life experience, I began to notice people frantically busy living their lives, paying scant attention to the outside world. Notice was paid to local and world events, but since there was little the average person could do to effect significant change, we shrugged, voted when we required, and moved on. There are people, of course, who become involved with their community. Bless you and thank you for stepping forward.
Now, I would I would like to discuss the word ‘old’. I have never been of the opinion I was old until I was referred to as OLD. I am oldER. Older folks are sometimes judged by their physical appearance. Now, ask an older person how they see themselves. You might be astonished at their reply! Every person was once young. I believe ‘old’ can be a state of mind. We will never be young again BUT our attitude toward life goes a long way to staying youngER. Now, I am not talking about fairies in clouds, you understand! When we age, life has a way of changing us in ways we once could never imagine! I smile as I write this. I can visualize some of you reading this piece nodding and thinking, ‘Just wait! You have no idea what lies ahead!’
I notice how some people react when encountering an oldER person. They look away refusing to make eye contact. There is no acknowledgement of our existence. The elderly are not invisible and, aging is not a disease! Aging is a natural process, if we are fortunate enough to survive life. People want to be acknowledged; even the youngest toddler in a stroller or the oldest person in a wheelchair. A smile, a friendly greeting or a soft look can make the world of difference to someone. That acknowledgement may be the only act of human kindness received that day. In effect, by looking away we are marginalizing another human being. That is discrimination, pure and simple.
In The Sand Clock I point out we are all individuals. We adapt, cope, accept pain and tragedy and try to move on. Three women Barbara, Millie and Augie live in a retirement home sharing experiences, struggles and courage. They listen to each other. In writing this novel, I wanted to point out that we all have struggles in life. A little phrase often comes to mind: head up, shoulders back, kick-ass attitude in place, and let’s get this done!
Support, not ignoring someone and not alienating, are the way to relate to our fellow humans. We must never turn our backs thinking, ‘not my problem’ or ‘I have nothing to offer’ and, worse yet, ‘I don’t have time’ when only a hand put out in kindness will make all the difference to someone who is struggling. We are all on a life learning path. We have lessons to learn, discoveries to be made, relationships to experience.