The Space Needle is My Neighbor

"A mind stretched by a new idea can never go back to its original dimensions." - Oliver Wendell Holmes
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mind Over Everything Else

I've been battling my first real infirmity for the last three months; a herniated disc in my back. Over the years I've had various injuries to my back- a broken tail bone, (twice), ripped muscles, spasms; nothing that's taken an inordinate amount of time to recover from. I've always bounced back as good as new. Until now. Injections, PT, heat, ice, recreational drinking (ok, you are paying attention), I've been willing to try anything to master this major inconvenience. The frustration that I'm dealing with is driving me nuts. I've always been a really active adult, and proud of the fact that I've been able to run circles around people half my age at work. Until now.

Unlike a lot of people my age, I've never complained about the process of getting older, or denied that it was happening to me, like some of my friends. I absolutely hate the phrase, "It is what it is", as overused as it's been, but in this case, I guess I have to view it as an appropriate assessment of my situation. Damn. I know this isn't life-threatening, and I want to keep the proper perspective, but it sucks to get old. There it "is". The perception of self is what's taken the brunt of the injury. That, and the realization that when strangers look at me, they don't see the vibrant, glossy-haired, fashion-forward person I was when I was my favorite age- 39, by the way. That was a great time in my life; enough interesting travel, diverse jobs and creative endeavors under my belt to usually be viewed as the life of the party and someone you'd want to get to know. I had opinions. Now I have aches.

Boo Hoo. Don't get me wrong. I don't think I'm "over the hill", or finished. Please don't view this as a self-indulgent pity piece. I want to make it through this transition with as much grace and humor as I can gather up. Today is the first time I've attempted to really face these feelings and come up with my game plan. As you can tell, I haven't written anything here in a very long time and have justified it with various excuses, but now I'm beginning to know the real reason.

For a brief period of time, I had finally gotten to the point where my public writing became very personal. When I started this site, it was typically filled with humorous and entertaining observations, but very little about me. When I stripped away a lot of my need to amuse and got down to the real feelings and experiences, it was amazingly satisfying. I just couldn't sustain it, even with all of the catharsis that accompanied the process. I discovered that for me, it's very difficult to consistently write from that personal place, but without it, there's something lacking in my life. Perhaps if I'd kept writing through this particular experience I'd have a clearer perspective about it and wouldn't be feeling quite as lost.

I have a magnet with a picture of a woman looking in a mirror as she straightens her hat. The reflected image is of her as a young girl. The caption is, "We are always the same age inside". I've had this magnet for a very long time and I've always tried to be mindful of this phrase as I've gone through the world, meeting women in their 70's and 80's who are writers, artists, musicians, or just 'strong personalities' by profession. I've searched their faces for confirmation of this notion, because it seemed important to me. Now as I turn it over in my mind while writing this piece, it becomes somehow superfluous. My sense now is that it's not about always being the same age inside, but about being the same person and true to yourself , or how about maybe even a better person? That seems like a very worthwhile endeavor.

OK, about the picture that accompanies this post. About a month ago, when I was feeling my worst, and right before I took a disability leave from work, I saw a teenage boy walk past my store in the mall, wearing a t-shirt with this image. Please forgive me, but I couldn't stop laughing. I recreated the image myself, because I was determined to appropriate it for my recovery garb. Is it wildly un-P.C.? Of course it is, but if I'm gonna walk through this world again as myself, in whatever way I can manage, then it is indeed "Go Time".


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