I sat in the Leeward YMCA lobby about to start listening to and writing up an interview. But the sounds of aloha all around sidetracked me. Someone strums a ukulele just loud enough for the melody and key changes to be heard above the clacking of mahjong tiles and lively conversation of a community connecting.
Laughing, joking, greetings, setting next meeting times. The front door squeaks and scrapes open, thumping shut. Japanese, English, and pidgin English burble from different groups. I can hear the smiles in their voices.
Except for the occasional mom dropping off a toddler in childcare and the YMCA employees, mid-morning YMCA traffic is mostly retirees. Why the stark contrast to the dampened energy in a care home with people of similar age? Because everyone wants to be here. They are here to maintain or improve their quality of life, intending to continue and remain relevant.
Staying in an elder care home is usually involuntary, lonely, and uncomfortable, resulting in resignation, resentment, and depression. Although the two institutions share same-aged clients, everything else is different.
Maybe, movement is the key. In previous generations, youth were constantly moving—physically, mentally, and professionally. Too much motion is a problem if it interferes with mindfulness, thankfulness, and perspective.
If moving makes it easier to keep the mind and spirit active, then that’s the thing we need to incorporate into daily life. Not maybe; must. It tells our body, “I still need you,” which, in turn, tells the mind and spirit, “Do your job too.” A walk, pedaling a stationary bike, gardening—anything that makes use of this body’s brief rental engages the non-physical tenants, mind and spirit. Otherwise, they begin looking toward the hereafter when they don’t feel necessary.
We all paid a price for access to this plane of existence. Get the most for your money, and use your body every day to keep the rest of you in play as long as possible.
A trail runner in his fifties once said he wanted to die with a completely used up, beat up body. Until then, he would go, go, go! I like that.
I don’t have to go nuts, run far or hard. But I can appreciate all my parts and use their full range of motion. Oh, happy yard work, welcome miles, and joyful vacuuming (ugh). God and microbes, you are not getting this carcass back until I’m good and done with it!