Sunday, May 17, 2015

Endurance lessons from water, air, leaves

"She described the reasons 'why I should go on living.'

"That my life was not for myself alone, but also for others around me, especially for those with whom I have a strong emotional spite of growing old and infirm, I still had the ability to give something to others. This sense of being able to give and not just take, makes living worthwhile. When the mind and brain still function, one can contribute even a tiny bit for the benefit of those with whom one has a relationship of love and trust."
- Sherwin Nuland quoting a letter from his friend Ruby Chatterjee

Before officially crossing over to the year of grace (so-called because one is undeserving of it but it is still being given, perhaps not just another 365 days, maybe more), I've been reading up on aging. The book beside my bed these past nights is Dr. Nuland's The Art of Aging: A Doctor's Prescription for Well-being (a Random House book published in '07).

The small discomforts of physical aging are not yet pronounced, although I'm starting to feel them. But I don't pay heed to them during walks with The Wee One. She isn't so wee anymore. A few days ago, she declared with surety one morning, while gazing up at me, that she wasn't that small anymore, that her head of soft curls could now reach my belly button area.

Our extended family of born free creatures now includes these fish that gotta swim and the wild birds (ravens?) that gotta fly, then rest on tree's branches before they zip to other parts of Baguio.

During those walks, she'd skip, hop, run, climb, ask to be pushed high when she's on the playground swing. I am just her onlooker-observer, someone to sometimes hold hands with. She always chooses the path to take for those walks and leads the way. A "must" stopover is the village pond. She speaks low to remind me that we have to tiptoe. Then she puts her pointer finger across her lips to mean we shouldn't use our normal conversation voices. Otherwise, the school of fish swimming close to the murky, bottle-green surface of the water will quickly dive below.

Her eyes and powers of observation are sharper than mine. At times she even directs me to the direction of the wind that's rippling the water's surface. She notices the reflection of trees and ferns, the unusual shapes made by the morning shadows cast by capiz lamps that hang from the branches of a pine tree.

The strange shapes formed on the water's surface by a summer breeze, trees "growing" on water, the shadows cast by the trees--these are the things The Wee One and I delight in during the summer of her fourth year in this world.

Her lesson isn't lost on this aging woman. To enjoy a sacred Sunday like today, one must stay close to the Present and not fret about tomorrow and the days after it.

I hope that with my companionship, I've also contributed something to her life.

A friend once described her thoughts when she became a grandparent: "It's a great feeling! We all didn't like the idea of growing old. But you can't be a grandma without getting old." Photos by Babeth
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