A few weeks ago, when I wrote that post about eating more vegetables, a reader commented as follows:
I’ve noticed the same pattern in all the lifestyle bloggers. Once they hit 60 it’s boom, health obsession.
I never managed all the replies that week, I apologize, I think I got really focused on editing the middle section of my book and used up my words. But I do want to respond now to the question of why people over-60 might start to talk about health – and hear your thoughts.
When I was young, my body worked with very few glitches. Aside from childhood croup, standard hay fever, and more UTIs than felt reasonable at the time, I sailed freely through my 20s, 30s and even late 40s. I got pregnant easily, I gave birth in an exceedingly painful but non-complicated process, breastfeeding was brutal but I persisted.
In my late 40s I realized I needed reading glasses. Perimenopause brought nothing of note except a brief episode of weird heartbeats. I hit 50. At first, menopause itself was easy. Then I was laid up for a while with gynecological problems, then I noticed I was losing some hearing in my left ear, and, most notably, in my late 50s parts of my hitherto uncomplaining body began to hurt.
It turns out that my sense of self, more than I knew it, had been created (or at least supported) by what we call health. Mine was just good enough that I didn’t know it deserved a term of its own, I thought it was was simply “being.” Does that make sense? I stood up without discomfort, I hurried around and thought and did many things at once, I inhabited a broad and unfettered space. I thought that was me.
Now I’m 62, and laid up for 4-6 weeks. Two weeks to go. Don’t think I’m not counting.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is that health isn’t separate. I feel I am not the same person as when I leapt about.
Here’s what’s surprising – although I loathe being stuck on a sofa and I despair at low-level pain day-after-day, I prefer having to consider before I act. Huh. These days I do a lot more living in-between, rather than rushing up a hill for a brief and sometimes-imagined epiphany, and then rolling back down.
So I don’t see eating more vegetables and less meat and cheese, or trying to exercise more even though I fail, as being obsessed with “health.” I’m just living in the self I’ve got now.
I could always be wrong.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone, even it’s a little slower than in days of yore.