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Be Content Living Within Yourself

Recently, I wrote in this space about the need to “manage expectations” as you get older. My sister, who is two years older than me, responded.

Sisters are known for their honesty and forthrightness, and mine is no exception. She liked that article but suggested that I should have included with it the admonition of the Apostle Paul who wrote: “For I have learned, in whatever state I am in, therewith to be content.”

She was probably right. Her response also jogged my thinking, and helped me recall another admonition on aging that my doctor has preached to me.

“Rolly,” he says, “you have to learn to live within yourself!”

In a way, my doctor is giving health advice similar to the spiritual advice given by St. Paul. We have to accept where we are in life, including the restrictions imposed by age.

Another way to look at it, is that as we get older there are things that we may want to do — but that we probably shouldn’t.

For example, I used to ride a bike a lot for exercise and would still like to. But, what could happen to me now if I fall from the bike? When I was younger, it might mean that I would skin my knee. Now, it could mean that I might break my knee or maybe my head! So, I don’t ride bikes anymore. The same can be said for downhill skiing.

“Living within yourself” as you get older has other applications. I used to think nothing of getting in a car very early in the morning and driving to Buffalo to get a 6 a.m. flight. Now, I don’t even think about it. My mind says: “Well, what if the car breaks down in the dark on the Thruway? What if I have an accident or hit a deer at 4 a.m. in the morning enroute to the airport?” OK, I guess I will drive to Buffalo the afternoon before, stay over-night in a hotel room, relax, go out to dinner and have the hotel drive me to the terminal in the morning.

As you get older you become a bit more cautious, because you know more your own limitations. Don’t push the envelope. Live within yourself.

A good friend recently fell while walking her dog. It was at night or dusk. She had fallen in a ditch she didn’t see and needed help to get up. The next time she will probably walk the dog during daylight hours, or take a friend with her on the walk.

Aging does make you more cautious, but you also “chafe at the bit” because you want to live life the way you always have. However, “discretion is the better part of valor.” If things go wrong, there can be greater repercussions.

Perhaps the greatest temptations are in the machines we now have. We drive smarter cars, more adaptable and easy-to-ride lawn tractors, and have those ever-present cellphones–all of which can give you a sense of security. Yet, better not to rely too much on machines. They also have their limitations.

I have enough gray hair. I don’t need more. Ease your worry, enjoy the day and learn to “live within yourself.” That is good advice that my doctor gave. Maybe it will help you too!

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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