Thursday, November 8, 2012

Life in the Spectator Seat

Chillin with my foot up at my daughters
Have you ever thought about what your life would be like through the eyes of an older person.  I have been giving it a great deal of thought lately. Yes, it has to do with nearing the magical Social Security Age.   It also has to do with my  role in life recently changing.  And of course it has to do with my recent accident and resulting physical limitations.  So I have been thinking....   Why does our walking slow down as the years advance?  Our muscles weaken? Our posture leaning?  What causes a person to limp?   How do people interact differently with older persons?  How is life different as a elder in our society?  I know I have not given these thoughts much effort until recently.

For the first week after I was injured, I used a cane and could barely hobble around.  I found the lack of eye contact unsettling.  It was as if I had suddenly become less seen.   People walked around me as if I wasn't even there.  Now that I am using crutches and an ankle boot, I find people more engaging, asking what I did to my leg and asking if I need help or leaping to provide help.  Why the difference? 
I have  always experienced life in the drivers seat as exciting, full filling and moving at a pace that I had at least some control.  Life in the spectator seat lacks most of these attributes that I have grown to appreciate.  It is amazing how much one simple word,  CONTROL  means in my life.  I enjoy being able to get my own cup of coffee and to be able to do things for myself.  Lately,  I have realized what patience it takes to wait for help or to be invited to participate in life's rituals.   I love the ability to follow through with the problem solving and see the results.  In short, I feel devalued.  Is it only in my eyes or have I lost value as seen by others?
For now, at least the role of spectator is determined by my healing process.  For others the process becomes the new normal, a turn in life that gradually takes on permanence.   Life is full of adjustments until finally we can no longer make adjustments.

Our efforts to stop the aging progress with good diet choices and exercise tho futile, does aid in our comfort and stamina and mental health.  I certainly do not minimize these efforts, but there ARE limits to mind over reality.

I have been experiencing new life lessons these days.   I know that there are so many lessons yet to be learned.  I have plenty of time for reflection these days...

                                           Waiting ...... Learning ..... Waiting ....


  1. I think one thing that changes our interactions as we age, is that people cannot relate well to old age. It is as if they can deny that it happens if they do not "see" it in others. I don't think this is done with malice, it is only a self-preservation system built into our minds. Younger people do not want to look in that mirror and recognize themselves years down the road. It is easier to pretend to not see the writing on the wall or to kid themselves into thinking it won't happen to them. They will never be old, stooped, walk with a limp, be overweight...whatever that case may be.

    When you are walking around on crutches with an obvious injury, that is a whole new ballgame. Anyone can be injured regardless of age, and it does not threaten the fantasy that exists in all our minds that we will never be old and crippled.

    How's that for 2 cent pop psychology LOL???

  2. Thoughtful. With a recent knee injury and hobbling around with a brace, I discovered as well how frustrating it can be. Although that invisible thing you are talking about has been going on a long time for me. It just is. We become invisible as we age. Then we simply vaporize!

  3. Very thoughtful post. I think women become invisible sooner than men but ultimately we all do and I Think Donna is spot on as to why. The same reason we desert the widow and the terminally ill. It's all about us and feeling uncomfortable. I recently blogged about feeling unheard which happens for the same reasons. Hard to face that at some points mind over matter no longer works.

  4. Yes, getting older is interesting. I feel the same inside, and still feel like I'm a thin, attractive person, and perfectly able to take care of myself. Even looking in the mirror I feel that way. I think it's strange when I see a photo of myself, especially one in someone else's blog, showing me as an older woman, kind of pudgy, and not dressed very well. I have an entirely different view of myself. I have to say, it's wonderful to be an optimist!

    I don't think we feel old until our health fails and we are no longer in control of the things around us.