This week I traveled by Second Avenue bus from East 79th St. to 60th St., on my way to Bed Bath and Beyond, a favorite store for variety, value and service. I seldom ride the new "blue light" express around 3 p.m. because it bursts with screaming boisterous children escaping from school.
So I'm waiting endlessly for the local and looking over my fellow passengers. As usual, impaired folk are frequently among the group. Most riders are fairly patient with the slow-mo pace caused by the boarding of people with walkers and motorized wheel chairs, understanding what a blessing in mobility for the disabled is bought at the price of a little inconvenience.
One lady was particularly outstanding. Riding her smart black vehicle, accompanied by her daughter, she wore a cherry red down coat, wrapped against the wind in a voluminous black and white animal print throw. Peeking out from on top, anchored by a small plaid scarf, was a taupe knit beret; below were fashionable taupe suede booties.
Blank blue eyes stared out from her tiny 98-year-old face, as I spoke to her daughter -- so solicitous in making sure her aged mother maintained as much dignity and presence as possible. The love was tangible, touching all who bothered to notice.
Another woman, somewhat younger, still mobile and quite vocal looked pityingly at the ancient one and announced, "I hope they shoot me when I get to that point, don't you?" I replied, "You really don't mean that." She sheepishly said, "I guess not." To her credit, she faced the blustery day in a oversized black and brown leopard spotted faux fur coat, crocheted cap and beige khakis.
What is happening to today's lady of eighty? Gone are the dowdy duds, the dated handbag. Let those who are younger take note and vow verily that they will maintain their visibility and viability till they depart for a new adventure.
Could there be a connection between this improved transportation technology and the rejuvenated outward appearance and activity of so many seasoned citizens? After all when one is housebound, a housedress or ratty robe will do. Who's to see? Who cares? It becomes a stale leftover life. When dependent on others to glimpse the light of day and diversified faces, discouragement sets in and it gets easier to give up. When out and about, new trends are noticed, shop windows invite, restaurants beckon, fresh relationships can begin. An appetite for living as well as nourishment can be stimulated.
Kudos to the powers that be for providing access for our older and/or infirm residents. Now if only there were more effective ways to facilitate positive change in minds as well as bodies so that they may enjoy expanded horizons!
Of course there are books, some organizations and occasional television programs that address this issue; however the previous conditioning of the past almost always blocks acceptance of the new, even preventing willingness to explore possibilities.
Perhaps a partial solution lies in better preparation for the inevitability of life changes.
Practicing ongoing versatility, adaptability and flexibility of the brain as well as the body must be a discipline, enthusiastically accepted, in order to retain at least some of the promises of youth.
I just remembered/realized that there is something else going on here, something critically important: The accrued false beliefs that are our legacies from our predecessors.
One of these many assumptions is: Age = Deterioration and Loss
This error is so ingrained in psyche that it might as well be carved in granite.
When Michelangelo was asked how he created his famous statue of David he replied that he could see the statue was already within the stone and merely chipped away the superfluous pieces until David was revealed.
In a similar way our truth is revealed beneath our programming.
Get the tools of your intellect sharpened to chip away all falsehood.
Be master of your mind or lose it!
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