Just a Tiny Inkling

“The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.” – Doris Lessing

This is a truth. I hear it from patients daily. For years I was completely incapable of understanding, much less expressing true empathy, but now I am starting to get an inkling of what they are feeling.

Personally, I find it disorienting to not necessarily recognize the person in the mirror and I am early in this process. I am terrified of the disconnect I will feel when I am seventy. Let’s face it, unlike Joan Rivers I don’t have an army of crazy skilled plastic surgeons that can devote their lives to maintaining my youth.

One thing I do know. As you age, your desires do not change. Even when I am frail, wrinkled, and my hand is unsteady, I will still want to have much of the same things I wanted when I was twenty even if they are no longer possible:

I want to be desired and to feel beautiful with minimal effort. I want to roller blade without worrying about compression fractures. I want to be able to see my daughter’s new freckles without putting on my old lady glasses. I want to be able to stay up all night and still function the next day. I want to eat good pasta by the pot full without having to worry about calories. I want to be able to have a second martini and not suffer from a hang over the next morning.

My list will grow longer. Part of me is sad and waxes nostalgic, but in the end I don’t want to be (that) person.

I have the feeling that aging holds some great truth, a secret knowledge that is the key to the universe and so it draws me forward, on to that light. THE light? Hmmmmm. Aging may not be for the faint of heart, but I can certainly tell you that it is a beautiful thing to understand patients on a whole new level.



11 thoughts on “Just a Tiny Inkling

  1. I look much younger than 46. I feel much younger than 46. I’m not saying this to brag but tell you that when I do look and feel my age at some point in the future it is going to be hard on me. It’s going to suck hard. I just hope I have enough depth and maturity to go into my “golden” years with some grace. Nice post. Got me thinking again.


  2. I love that you can see both sides of life – express the human condition, be willing enough to share vulnerabilities that come to the surface when people are aging, and sometimes sick. Thank you for the time you take to post!


  3. Don’t know what you are talking about.., aging is a swear word in my practice 😛 Just kiddin’ – I actually totally understand this post! I had to biopsy one of my husband’s lesions last week, it came back as sebbrhoeic keratosis (aka aged wart). He was not impressed!!!!


  4. This is only my personal opinion. When I was in my 40’s I worried about aging, my looks particularly. I did not want to die young and leave my children with no mom. I had colon cancer at 38. In my fear I made a deal with the Lord. Please let me live until my children are grown and able to take care of themselves. My looks did not seem to matter to me after that. I am now 71. I have beat cancer three times in my life. My children are grown, married and I am a grandmother. When I open my eyes in the morning I am thankful for another day. I don’t worry about the pounds, my looks or the aches and pains of aging. I am thankful for being able to function, think, although I do have a brain fart once in a while, love, see my grandchildren grow, watch the sun rise and sunset, and many other things. One day the Lord will call me home, and I don’t think he will care what I look like when I get there, however I do think he will care how I treated people, showed love, cared for people, helped people, gave of myself with out expecting anything in return.

    I think you will do fine, your profession is a selfless job, you have beautiful children, you have love in your heart and compassion in your soul. You will do fine. Enjoy your life, worry makes you grow old. :o)


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