I’ve been thinking (and I know, don’t believe everything your mind tells you) but I have being reading Being Mortalwritten by Atul Gawande, practicing surgeon and professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. In this thought provoking book, he reminds us that contrary to popular culture and marketing hype, we will not live forever. And unfortunately most of us are not prepared to deal with this eventuality. As we age and gradually decline, we may be able to slow the process by being mentally engaged, staying physically active and eating right. But like the rubber on a car’s tires, we eventually wear out. As Jim Holston reminds me “This is as good as it gets!”
But there is good news. Atul Gawande also highlights the research of Laura Carnesten a professor of psychology at Stanford University. Her work has shown as we acknowledge our own mortality, it changes our perspective on life.
She has found when people feel they will live forever, or too busy to consider their eventual fate, they seek new friends and relationships, try new experiences, and take chances. Because if it doesn’t work out, well, there is always tomorrow.
But when people realize that death is an eventuality they can’t escape, it is in our genes, their perspective changes. People start to see their priorities more clearly, take less notice of trivial matters, are more appreciative, and live more in the “now”. Life gets better and they are happier.
And isn’t that ironic? As we ride this downward trajectory of aging, we generally are happier. What was thought to be so important during the “productive” years is no longer, while friendships and living in the present are. It is like seeing the world with sharper glasses and thinking, wow, even with all the challenges of personal losses and physical ailments, life is pretty good.
If you want to discuss more about how our outlook on life changes as we age, join me for the 11:00 Tuesday Lecture at the Center on December 9th when we will watch a video presentations by both Laura Carstensen and Atul Gawande.
Since the Center’s Saturday Breakfasts took a hiatus for several months, I wanted to give you an early notice that Saturday Breakfast will be back on December 22ndfor the traditional Christmas Breakfast sponsored once again by The Springs at Mill Creek. You can enjoy a traditional breakfast of pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs, and we’ll see whether Santa makes an appearance this year.
The Center quilters have been creating beautiful quilts in support of the Center since the mid-80’s raising thousands of dollars. But you may not know that the Center quilters can also be hired to repair worn or unfinished quilts if you have that special quilt you want mended. You can find the quilters downstairs at the Center every Monday from 10:00 to 3:00 where they still patiently hand stitch their quilts. And this month you can purchase raffle tickets for two of their quilts which are on display at the Center.
It’s been a while since I have tried to scramble your grey cells by mixing up the Center’s music announcement. See what you can decipher this week.
Fro teh Centre’s Tsuedya Ngiht msiuc no Demcereb 9th, Mriatn and Frindes will eb prefmriong. Adn unlses teh swno flals or teh rain zfreees, the msicu strsat ta 7:00 nad is oerv by 9:00. Eveyreno is wolecme and dionosatn aer aywlas apatpicred.
The actress, comedienne and musical performer who starred in several movie musicals as well as her own television specials in the 60’s and 70’s was Francesca Marlene de Czanyi von Gerber, I mean, Mitzi Gaynor. And the winner of a free Saturday breakfast on December 20th is Alex Currie.)
This week’s “Remember When question is not a quote or of local significance, but a multiple choice question about the good old days. In 2013 the median family income was $51,939. What was the median family income fifty years ago in 1964? (a) Between $5,000 and $7,000, (b) between $7,000 and $9,000, or (c) between $9,000 and $11,000. E-mail your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 541-296-4788 or mail it with a roll of u-lick-em 5 cent postage stamps and a gallon of 30 cent gas.
Well, it’s been another week, trying to find my way back in the dark. Until we meet again, as Roger Rosenblatt wrote in his book Rules for Aging, “Just because the person criticized you is an idiot, doesn’t make him wrong”.
Every time I think that I’m getting old, and gradually going to the grave, something else happens. ~ Lillian Carter