Snow Shoveling: A Reminder About Getting Older

With all the snow in the Washington area this past week (two blizzards and about 30 inches in my neck of the woods), we are shoveling several times each day. Our work is even harder than we expected because our neighborhood snow blower needed a repair just as the first blizzard finished up. But we shoveled on to make it safer, indeed to welcome other people who walk on our little part of the street.

Snow shoveling requires persistence, patience, strength, energy, commitment to community, and common sense, and for as long as I can remember it’s been easy. This time, however, despite my ongoing exercise and weight lifting, shoveling has been harder. My arms and shoulders are aching, and my chest feels heavy (my asthma acting up in the extreme cold and wind) if I do not pace myself.

I am just beginning to consider how some tasks will gradually become too hard for me to accomplish as I age. This is the beginning of a long transition — one that I’ve watched my parents move through — from aging child to senior adult, and eventually to aging parent. Change will be the norm.

Juxtaposed with my snow musings, is an article in the Washington Post, “Experts on geriatrics describe what’s great about aging,that describes how some characteristics, perspective, patience, wisdom, common sense, commitment to community, and understanding, change and grow stronger as people age. (Not unlike the traits one needs to efficiently shovel snow.) The article also describes how relationships with friends and family can deepen as one ages. It’s a good read, but more importantly, the article makes the case that as some things get harder, other things become easier. Change is the norm.

Keeping a perspective is important at each stage of life. Celebrating strengths, and accepting that they will change as we age, is one key to living well and fully. This perspective provides a solid foundation upon which we can build and rebuild our lives at each age.

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