A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of March 4-10, 2015
ARE YOU FEELING YOUR AGE?
Upon the intersection of my current reading fare (Dr. Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal”), the upcoming exact Uranus-Pluto square on March 16, and my recent high blood pressure and high blood sugar indicators, my answer is yes, I am indeed feeling my age.
Where does youthfulness end and decrepitude begin? Is there a defined divide where one day you’re feeling wonderful in the peak of health and the next day you all of a sudden become violently ill? (I’ve known of cases like these.)
Are we even aware that with each birthday we celebrate, we are also one year closer to the inevitable, whether that means some sort of bodily or mental breakdown or death? You know, I have to admit that I was operating on a plane of denial about my physical health. I mean, of course, I’m very vigilant about my mental health, regularly checking in with myself for signs and symptoms of my bipolar disorder. I am diligent about reporting even the slightest mood and behavior changes to my psychiatrist. However, when it comes to my physical diagnoses, diabetes and hypertension, I admit that I have been less than careful.
As my readers with diabetes know, this condition is managed by diet, exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. If those are not enough, then we get prescribed diabetic medications and insulin. Somewhere between being told that I have adult-onset diabetes 15 years ago and now, I have been in denial about following the advice, warnings, and injunctions about my illness. I was 30 years old then, and the complications being described to me – heart attacks, eye problems, nerve and kidney damage, among others – seemed so far removed from my apparently “healthy” life.
Another facet of my denial came from my hypertension. I have not been that diligent in getting my blood pressure checked throughout the years, although every time I went to my doctor in the past, my blood pressure (BP) was always within normal limits. That’s a minor miracle, actually, because I used to smoke a lot apart from generally not leading a healthy lifestyle. This year, though, just when I’ve quit smoking since New Year’s Day, it’s ironic that my blood pressure chooses this time to shoot up and give me a scare.
Therefore, I am making it my intention to set my health straight this year. Lose the weight, modify the diet, step up on the exercise, and take my meds and insulin. Help myself as much as I help others. It appears that what I have here is an imbalance between giving and receiving: I need to receive healing as much as I give healing. However, my mentor taught me that it’s not actually we who are doing the healing but we just prime a person for healing to occur in her. The thing I have to remember is that the body and mind have the capacity to heal themselves. If we help them along by consciously doing the “right things” (diet, exercise, etc.), then the body and mind respond accordingly, generally speaking. It’s a bodymind intuition sort of thing.
Of course, what we cannot afford to remove from this equation is your personal practice of spirituality. Whatever you call your Supreme Being, it should be a part of your outreach and outpouring of thanks. (Astrologer Rob Brezsny calls God “the Divine Wow.”) I have not finished reading “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande, but I promise to report on it once I do. That book describes what’s being done in the field of geriatrics and about the phenomenon of aging. I am excited to read the rest of the book.
Meanwhile, back to the subject of feeling our age. Truth be told, I’m turning 45 this coming April 4. On the face of it, I have no problem admitting my age and all that. I’m even proud to say my age, as if it were a badge of honor, and it is, if we equate it with wisdom gained over the years. Now I’m forced to admit that my other types of wisdom may have far outpaced my basic bodily wisdom, in which my bodymind intuition should have known better and steered me toward healthier choices in life. I need to feel more grounded and am seeking ways to do that. But now, with intimations of mortality staring me in the face, metabolic syndrome, frazzled nerves and all that, I’ve come all of a sudden to feel my age.
We may age, our loved ones may age, the world may age, but the All-Powerful is timeless and mighty. In our relationship with the Divine, we must never forget to express our gratitude for each day that we still wake up and feel relatively healthy.