Thursday, August 18, 2011

Let me tell you about my operation

The story is that the wealthy prince had been shielded from contact with sickness, aging and death up to the age of 29.  At that point, he bypassed the shield and found out what it means to have a vulnerable human body and to be a mortal being.  

In these times, it is increasingly easy to associate physical problems with aging, and dying with being old. Actually we all know that the process of deterioration proceeds all the time.  As we say, the only way to avoid participating in the process is to not be born and if you are reading this, it is already too late for that option. So if you are alive, you are falling apart, either quickly or slowly, along expected pathways or surprising ones.  But that is ok.  It is just the flip side of having the excellent adventure of being part of your mommy's and daddy's recipe for forming, and emerging from the womb into life.

I don't understand the body processes very deeply but I think it is ok to say that the body has mechanisms to partially repair and renew itself, to fend off infections and invasions, but that these mechanisms age and lose effectiveness over time. Just how any body ages is quite individual.  But as we learn about the possibilities, we get a better idea of how things may go for us.  Knees, hips and shoulders may have joint problems.  Eyes may get cataracts.  Sneakier difficulties such as high blood sugar or high blood pressure are typical.

Just what problems I will develop is unknown, really, but talking to my friends can give me a clue about what may be lying in store for me.  Likewise, my experiences are helpful to them, alerting them to possibilities.  As we all get deeper into aging and infirmity, we find some of our agemates are quite helpful, both with information and with consolation, encouragement and empathy.  As with anything, some narratives are boring or wandering but the better ones are gripping stories of pain, accommodation, courage and prediction.  

It's no wonder that many of us, once deeply convinced that we would never become old folks reciting stories of aches and medicines, have transformed into enthusiastic medical gossipers.

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