This Thing Called Aging. . .
Bear with me.
I have to tell you something. It's about a thing called aging.
When I was in my 20s, a Jane Fonda devotee, an aerobics instructor at Delhi’s Surya Sofitel Hotel, I laughed inwardly seeing my 40s-something class huffing and puffing through my routine of high-impact aerobics. “Jump into the air,” I would yell from my four inch-high bench while my pot-bellied unisex audience would strive to catch their stalling breath.
When I was in my 30s, a young associate at Pillsbury and McKenzie, I dropped my son off to daycare, ran into Department 4 at the San Francisco Superior Court on McAllister Street, trudged home after a long day's work and still made the time to hop on the treadmill and run a mile.
When I was in my 40s, the raising and rearing of my young ones forced me to stay at home but not out of my daily exercise class at the gym. I continued to engage in squats, burpees and jumping jacks, twisting my hamstrings into new and inventive maneuvers. I tried to mold myself into a non Type-A person, a wife and a mother, who took pride in her cooking and the college applications of her offspring.
In my 50s, I find I have no strength left in my decrepit knees. They creak and crumble at every boot camp manipulation I attempt. This week I even took a shot at a beginner's yoga class, trying hard not to stifle my yawns and focus my wandering mind to the single breath of "Ommm."
I visited my parents last month, and I was shocked to witness in them the ravages of old age. In her 70s, my fiesty mother who left no opportunity unclaimed to argue, fight with and admonish me is a shadow of herself. Her mind goes around in circles, repeating the question, "Are you coming for your cousin's wedding?" to me hour after hour.
"Yes, mom, I am." I reiterate, first with a smile, the third time with a frown and the fifth time I hear myself answering her question again, I find the tears rolling down my eyes.
"Should we have her tested for dementia?" I ask my Dad. My father, in his 80s, hard of hearing but mental acuity sharp as a whip, devoted to my mom, denies there's anything wrong with her. I'm reminded of Swami Chetanananda's words, "The older I get, the less I know. it's so wonderful— it makes the world so spacious."
My EKG reveals my heart galloping at an extremely healthy pace. "Fit as a fiddle," my general practitioner proclaims. "No flexibility in your spine," my yoga teacher harumphs with a snort. Watching the Golden Globe-nominated show, 'The Good Doctor' I have a sudden vision of my heart pumping loudly "Blip, blip" while my knees and my hips keep me glued to my wheelchair in my 80s. Dammit! That's if my mind doesn't turn to mush and drag me down the abyss of oblivion first!
I'm supposed to live until 90. That's what every soothsayer and palm reader has always said to me. I used to be secretly delighted every time I heard that. But, now? A long life . . . bah, humbug! They never told me about this thing called aging. It's a bitch, for sure!