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Still slowing down, still not stopping 

On the Bright Side

Fifteen years ago I wrote a column about "slowing down but not stopping." In it I discussed the realization that while I couldn't do some of the things I could do when I was younger – like playing basketball all day or being able to read the directions on a pill bottle without glasses – I was still able to do a lot and I was not planning on stopping any time soon.  

I acknowledged then that a little creativity and desire goes a long way in figuring out how to keep on doing the things we love to do, even if we do them slower and with less finesse, or even if we have to figure out totally new ways to remain both physically and mentally active. 

Now, all these years later, my limitations seem more numerous, more profound, more challenging and more life-altering, and yet I am still not ready to stop. I got a couple of good reminders from my old column to keep on keepin' on, and I thought I would share my refresher course with myself here, and with you as well. 

Growing older seems to pretty much guarantee getting slower, but I've also discovered that getting slower isn't just limited to how fast I can run or, for that matter, how fast I can do anything physically. It also includes the fact that I heal slower now when I get hurt, and my thinking and my reaction times are slower. Everything I do seems to get slower with the passing of time (except, of course, the actual passing of time itself, which seems to speed up each year). 

The thing is, we all go through changes as we age, and while some people seem inclined to use the changes as excuses to just stop, others try to find and appreciate new and different ways to do things.  

Through my aging over the last few years I have acquired two new knees and a reconstructed foot, which means running for me is a thing of the past. I marvel when I see people my age running or jogging, and at times I get a little wistful, wishing that I could still do that, too, but while I'm not moving very fast anymore, I am still moving, and that is something. 

The point of my exercise is not to beat the clock any more. I walk as much as I can (which isn't much on some days) to feel good mentally and to feel healthy physically, and to enjoy exploring at a slower pace. I've also gotten into certain chair exercises to keep myself moving whenever I can't walk.  

These days I can't stay up all night without being sluggish the next day like I did in my twenties but that doesn't mean I have to go to bed at 8:00 every night either. Occasionally I do have a late night (especially with a good book) and if it takes me a little longer to get back to normal the next day, I don't mind. In fact, I may need more sleep now than when I was a wild, young thing, but that's okay, too. I usually get it, and an occasional short night won't ruin me (sometimes an afternoon nap can make a big difference). 

My mind may not be as quick as it once was, but I still enjoy crossword puzzles and word searches, and find the hidden object games and card games and jigsaw puzzles, and dice games...the list goes on. So what if it takes me longer to do a puzzle than it used to? I don't do them as a race anyway. Besides, if I do them because they bring me pleasure, then I now have a few more moments of pleasure, don't I?  

It's pointless to compare what I used to be able to do, either physically or mentally, to what I'm able to do now. Instead I know I just need to concentrate on being glad I can still do the things I still want to do, in whatever new or different (or slower) ways I've found to do them. 

Getting older may be a reason to change the way we do things, but it is no excuse to stop what we enjoy doing. 

© 2021 Marilda Mel White. Mel White, local writer/photographer and owner of Tehachapi  Treasure Trove, has been writing "On the Bright Side" columns for various publications since 1996. She welcomes your comments [email protected]