Appreciating the here and now
It occurs to me that all living things share many commonalities in the life process. They all need food, water, air and a home of some sort. But they share a process, as well - aging. Whether you're a plant, animal, insect or human being, you enter the world, grow, mature, hopefully flourish and eventually pass on. With time comes change. I can't speak for how the aging process affects a grasshopper, bird, dog or tree, but I have noted things about myself as a human being that make me recognize the fact that there is a special balance in being alive. Every age has its pluses and minuses, and at my age I have noticed changes - new limitations and new freedoms - that I accept as a normal part of the universal aging process. Some of the new limits and changes can be frustrating, but they are the cost of doing business.I used to be physically stronger; my vision and hearing used to be better. I used to be able to ride from Washington, D.C., to New York with only one or two pit stops and walk for hours without needing a restroom. I used to be able to unscrew and open water bottles without needing any special tools other than my hands. I used to only take one vitamin every morning. I used to be able to drink coffee and gobble chocolate without regard to caffeine. I used to be able to remember things better. And I used to have dark, thick curly hair. But I think there often is a fair balance in nature, and the new freedoms that have come with retirement and age seem to counterbalance many of the limitations. On most days, I can sleep as late as I like. I can travel whenever I want to. I can go to movies in the middle of the day. I have time to be of more service. I can indulge in hobbies for as long as I wish. Grandparenting is easier in many ways than parenting (all of the flavor and none of the calories). I can live where I want, not where I work. I can stay up as late as I want. I can make dinner dates and play dates at will. I can read whenever I want to because my time is my own. And as I sit here at my computer looking out the window at the trees dancing in the wind, the birds pecking at the grass, the butterflies fluttering from flower to flower, I suddenly feel a kind of unity with all that is alive at this moment in time. We are in this life together, alive and well. We need to be grateful. Freelance writer Judy Kramer can be reached by email at JudyandOz@tampabay.rr.com. She is author of "Changing Places: A Journey with My Parents into Their Old Age."
Column: A trip down the Apalachicola shows a natural river fighting for its life in a war over water