Body of Life

And it is always, eventually, about the body.

Although I try to avoid it, this business of growing older is inevitably about facing my diminishing corporeal capacities. This shapely body has grown merely sturdy; the long lovely architecture of bone becomes buried deeper each year beneath hard-earned muscle and the luscious endurance of fat.

I’ve grown used to the small indignities, like frequently needing reading glasses yet losing them often. Fortunately, I have not had to face this ignominy alone. Friends laugh in familiar recognition at my dilemma, and hand me their readers to see the memo or the menu.  Together, we have become people whose vision is better suited to the long view. We don’t need to remember everything, only what we cannot borrow or lend.

But privately , I’ve been forced to notice a deeper falling down, the kind we don’t share over a   casual lunch.  I live in this body like an old house. Its inner contours are well furnished and      familiar, but the siding is constantly in need of a paint job and routine maintenance and repair.  Of late, the girders and joists have begun to groan, reminding me that no house stands forever. My doctor swears I’ve lost a half-inch in height. And my knees demand professional attention.

So I’ll be away this week, attending to the needs of this body. I’ll be spending quality time with my orthopedic surgeon, and reflecting on the kind of  growth that only shows up on the inside.

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