An Excerpt from a Chair Yoga Teacher from her Final Chair Yoga Teacher Training “Aging Observation” Assignment
I chose to share my Aging Observation about two cousins because, although they came from very similar backgrounds, they chose to get old in very different ways. I use the word “choice” because I do believe, as Charles R. Swindoll argues, “Life is 10% what happens to a person and 90% how one reacts to what happens.” So, we really have a choice regarding the attitude we embrace each and every day of our lives.
Cousin A has always been a control freak and as she got older and started to lose control of many things, she became bitter and did not know how to let go. She always prides herself on the fact that through the years her personality, tastes and opinions remained unchanged. This fact alone should be enough to confirm to those of us who welcome change as a learning tool that Cousin A has chosen not to grow from her life experiences.
As Cousin A got older, her rigid temperament became more apparent and she started to be very disrespectful and rude to people whom she perceived were challenging her authority. Anywhere she went, she would demand attention and she expected people to serve her hand and foot. She would get very anxious when things didn’t go her way. She regularly see a psychiatrist and pleads for various medications to help her cope.
Her body posture leans forward, perhaps because she uses a walker. She is afraid to lift her foot to go into the shower and has a caretaker bathe her. She is always down in spirits and complains about her everyday life. She is focused on her aches and pains and blames everyone but herself for her misfortunes. She is scared to die although she won’t admit it. It is all about losing control, and I guess when you are dead, you are no longer in control.
Switching gears to Cousin B who is the same age as Cousin A. She cared for her ill husband for many years at her home. She finally put him in a nursing home, because his needs became impossible to handle. As the years went by, she lost her eyesight completely in one eye and sees very little out of the other one. Ten years ago, she went on a diet and lost all her extra weight.
Life has dealt many blows to this woman who in spite of everything continues to be very socially, physically and mentally active. She always seems to be upbeat and smiling. She would be a good spokeswoman for the slogan “Life is good”. She dresses very elegantly and walks very straight with a cane through the streets of her town. She gets on a plane and comes to stay with her daughter at least twice a year. Her enthusiasm is contagious; seeing her gives me hope that old age is not as bad as Cousin A continuously claims.
Cousin B has many friends and spends as much time with them as she can. When called at the last moment to go to lunch, she gracefully accepts. She makes the best of any situation she faces. She remains calm under any problem and does what she has to do.
Here we have two cousins who grew up pretty close and have been friends all their lives. I always wonder how a friendship can last that long with such opposite personalities.
I am very interested in the process of aging gracefully. I think that is the reason why I chose to teach older people. Getting older has to be hard, no doubt. My advice would be “know yourself and your body”. Work on whatever you feels needs work. Keep your mind and your body active. Cultivate friendships and do not attach yourself to worldly possessions. Live and let live, grow old with dignity and be thankful for the opportunity to be on this planet one more day.
The story of these two cousins has taught me a great deal about aging gracefully. I have learned that one’s health is largely in one’s hands and has a great deal to do with one’s attitude. “Glass half full” gives one a healthy orientation toward the inevitable changes of life, while “glass half empty” looks for the negative in every event that occurs and ultimately calls forth the ill fortune that one expects.