I’ve been to a blues guitar concert. I’ve eaten out. I’ve stayed in a hotel. I’ve received a booster for my Moderna vaccine. I recently celebrated by seventy third revolution around the sun. None of these things would be extraordinary in most times, but we all know how strange the last couple of years have been. Somehow in spite of all of new beginnings I have safely enjoyed, I find myself feeling a bit unwilling to declare that the threat of COVID-19 is over. A little voice in my head keeps reminding me that I am doing well because I have been very cautious. I still wear a mask whenever I go shopping or to a public gathering. I keep my distance from others and I still teach and take classes via Zoom. Somehow I have been unable to ditch the precautions that have directed my behavior for so many months lest I celebrate a victory over COVID prematurely.
My age puts me in the demographic of the elderly, but I feel incredibly young. My joints ache from arthritis, but I still have almost boundless energy. My recent birthday would have been just another number to me save for the fact that strangers treat me with the kind of delicacy reserved for older persons. They do not see a woman who still behaves like the energizer bunny most of the time. My wrinkles and my slower gait give away the truth of my how old I am.
I was shocked by my recent visit with an ophthalmologist. I finally need to wear glasses all of the time, something I have avoided all of the many years of my life. I always had managed to see well enough with drugstore readers that I did not think that I would ever need a real prescription. The hints were there, but I was choosing to ignore them. There were times when print appeared to be so small to me that I had to ask other people to verify what I was actually seeing. Nonetheless, I went into a state of shock at the announcement that I now need to perch spectacles on my nose all the day through. I was even more stunned to hear that I had the beginnings of cataracts. I don’t need surgery yet, but the day will come for sure.
I suppose it would be easier for me to behave like an older woman if I actually felt that way. Sure I get a hitch in my get-along now and again, but most of the time I feel fabulous. I suppose that I should have taken the hint that I am no longer a spring chicken when I ended up among the first to receive the vaccines for COVID. My recent sojourn with physical therapy for an injured arm was yet another indicator that I am not actually as spry as I want to believe.
Nonetheless, I do think that outlook has a great deal to do with how one ages. I’m not yet ready to put a shawl around my shoulders and give up the little bits of youthfulness that I still possess. So far my mind is holding up quite well, save for a tiny bit of forgetfulness now and again. With my electronic reminders thanks to modern technology, I don’t have to worry a bit about missing something because it slipped my mind. I keep my brain working hard with my reading and writing and teaching of mathematics. If I need glasses to continue to do those things it is a very small price to pay to keep my thinking young.
I suppose that I am a fuddy-duddy in some ways, but my beliefs are more in line with young people than my peers. I don’t long for a simpler time from the past. I revel in progress and embracing innovation. I look forward to one day driving an electric vehicle and getting my power from the sun or wind or both. I am always looking ahead to the future. I enjoy my memories but would never go back in time.
And yet, I am a cautious person. I’ve never been one to dive blindly from a cliff. I believe in science and when the experts explain to me how best to behave I listen, not because I am a sheep. In fact, I am more of a rebel than a follower. If I ran with the tide of my peers I would be worrying about the young millennials and wondering how our world will survive in their hands. Instead, I am incredibly optimistic about a future time run by those who are now in their twenties and thirties. I know that generation well. I have taught them and talked with them and admired them. Sometimes I think I have more in common with them than most of the folks who are my age.
So I will keep enjoying small milestones and celebrating the progress we have made in the battle with COVID. I like to think that we are where we are because of the millions of wonderful men, women and children worldwide who have followed science and made sacrifices for the sake of all the world. I sometimes dream of how wonderful it would now be if everyone had been inclined to work for the common good. I might be planning a trip to Scotland or feeling free to do all of the things I once did without a thought. For now I will hold steady with my cautious optimism. I see the sunshine up ahead and better days to come, but there is no reason to rush. All good things come in time.