Seniors are like teenagers in one thing, the matter of restraint. “Don’t tell me what to do,” we say. “We’ll do what we want, you do what you want.”
As we age, we tend to release some of the restraints of youth, like accumulation, appearances, slights, etc. The first half of life is for building a life; including maintaining an image. We’re restrained by what we should be, how we look, and how to please this one, that one, and the other one.
The second half of life, is for resting in what has been built; and we prefer peace over price. Speaking of restraint, I like T.F. Hodge’s words, “The path of peace is not a passive journey. It takes incredible strength not to open a can of ‘whoop-ass,’ justifiably, when one’s button is pushed.” Pleasing others isn’t as high on our list of priorities as fulfilling the overwhelming desire inside, for peace.
“I don’t care,” is our genuine take on most circumstances we face. Not in the sense of a lack of compassion toward others and their circumstances, but in the sense of the overall release of care toward stuff or the malarkey of others.
But one restraint we didn’t even consider in our youth was in the realm of calories. As we age, we have to restrain ourselves with the intake of calories. We can do what we want in many areas of life, but we can’t continue to eat what we want or as much as we want. The efficacy of doing so may eventually show up in consequences such as hypertension or Type 2 diabetes.
This doesn’t even address the “O”-words, overweight and obesity. What’s with that BMI chart? Does anybody match those numbers?
I thought I was doing well when I lost the seven pounds that I gained taking a steroid during my bout with poison ivy. Then, I read that dastardly BMI chart and holy moly, suddenly I was overweight!
In order to please the BMI chart, I would have to grow quite a few inches. This is unlikely at my age. My doctor and her professional staff are way too sharp to let me get away with wearing spike heels on that dastardly monument in their office intended to measure such things.
By the way I’ve begged to have that thing torn down like the statues of Robert E Lee in the south and Joe Paterno in State College, but no way. Even though I’m deeply offended by it along with its master, the BMI chart, it seems that tearing it down requires a whole lot more clout than I possess at this moment in time.
Then I had a birthday. I exercised restraint and had one piece of my own apple cake with 3 tablespoons of Ritchey’s Dairy pumpkin pie ice cream on the side. I know all the tricks, eating on a small, pretty plate, so that your portions look humongous but really aren’t.
And then there is the chewing thing. One should chew your food. Now I can’t really do that level of restraint where you have to count the number of chews for every bite. That just seems a little bit OCD to me. But the opposite of that are some cats I know, who inhale treats. I put down two or three treats per cat, and turn around to close the bag. I turn back around trying to avoid whiplash and there are four little begging eyes looking up at me gaslighting me. Did I give them treats? Surely not!
My senior mother-in-law has a problem with restraint in terms of her activity levels. She claims quite accurately that one day she has lots of energy, feels good, and does way too much. She then pays for overdoing it, the following day. This triggers an, every other day syndrome of one day up, next day down.
Some people have problems with restraint and money. Spending too easily, spending too much, or an inability to budget. Others of us veer a little bit to the opposite, wanting to save more and spend less on fun.
In fact, I’m confused by the word spendthrift. One would think combining those two words: spend and thrift, would mean that you’re a saver not a spender. However, it is the opposite. A spendthrift is someone who spends, spends, spends wastefully and to their detriment.
There are people who have a problem restraining their tongue. They feel constantly compelled to speak, respond, orate, recite, etc. These loquacious folks probably listen very little. It is said that some people don’t listen while you’re talking, they’re planning what they want to say, and really don’t hear you at all.
So, take care to listen very carefully from now on. Orson Scott Card said, “Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken.” Woo, that’s some restraint worth aiming for.
I think giving up the restraints that held us back in our middle age, as we move forward into our fifties, sixties, and beyond, are a little like the Kris Kristofferson song, Me and Bobby McGee: “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” When we’re older, we’re content to lose some of the requirements of life-building, and sit in the proverbial rocking chair on the porch, or take a walk on the beach or in the woods, and let the next generation build.
Are you living with abandon or living with care? How much restraint is conducive to freedom?