Poised on the threshold of Old Age, I teeter precariously. Doctors say balance is the first thing to go, that we must build up our core to counteract the dizzying effects of aging . . .
If I keep upright, I risk repeating the actions and reactions I have practiced so well these last thirty years: taking the trains, dodging commuters and tourists and traffic on the busy Manhattan streets, securing the lid tightly on my sip-as-you-go decaf latte, stepping to the same 9 to 5 dance music, uttering the tried-and-true words of comfort, scratching my brain to come up with yet another enriching employee event, reconfiguring the benefit package to gain a few points of improvement. I risk losing it when fellow workers devolve into pettiness, narrowness of perspective, meanness. I’ve heard it all before. My brain will slow down to a canter and go on automatic for a spell.
Suppose I tip backwards, will I ever get up again? My friend, Sherry, insists if we retire, the next waystation is Death! I’ll be condemned to sit on my haunches and helpless, observe the crumbling of my external skeleton, the ominous sounds of my infrastructure dissolving. Creaking joints, bones leeching calcium, misaligned sockets. Laziness may overcome schedules, food and other forms of self-indulgence take on more meaning than they are entitled to have. Getting and spending. Spending and more getting. My life may be defined by a trip to the grocery store, a walk around the block, a perch on the window sill? Will I manage to sit back and take it easy, waiting. . . until the dying of the light?
As the years advance if I manage to stand upright and in place, what will sustain me? Certainly not the sad ruminations about certain family members who have fallen on bad times, friends who disappoint, strangers who look right past me.
My inclination is to lean slightly forward, advance a step of two, more calmly and deliberately than I’m used to but nevertheless oriented in the right direction. The more steps I take, the more confidence I will have. I can once again be Janet the explorer, not certain of my destination, but savvy enough to know the road runs not straight but forks into many separate paths. And if I fall on my face, what have I lost? I just need to find friends to accompany me on my quest.
Janet Garber lives in Somers, NY and is still on her feet.