JE, Again, I highly value your input. As we all do, we read stories through the lens of our own experiences and that of course by its very nature colors what we read into it (whether the author intended or not, for we cannot know their minds). I hear what you’re saying.

Your point above is something that I like writing about in other pieces, because without what I call “payment” in a very different sense we can’t have compassion for others. One of my payments is that I have post-concussion syndrome from nineteen concussions, which in its own way, carries a set of challenges for me for the rest of my life. Unlike you, I brought that on myself, through my activities. Didn’t ask for it, but there you are. From the lens of limitations, which are different from yours, I now fully understand why Junior Sean took his life. Why so many athletes commit suicide. I nearly did for precisely the same reasons. Any one piece I write couldn’t possibly take into account everything I want to say about physical and mental health, aging well, the lot. It would be vast and long and overwhelming. I just pick a topic, write about that angle and perspective and move on.

I write a good bit for Margaret and Me Over Sixty, which is a website for us gals of a certain age. For them I do pieces that speak to other points you raise about the value of road rash, aging, the price we pay for our perspectives, and those gifts that can only come through age, loss, growth and the inevitability of seeing an end at some point which people in the blush of youth can’t conceive.

My purpose is to simply make a point and expand on it, but there are many points to be made about health from so many different angles. What you said above is one of the great and difficult gifts of loss- “now I see,” and with that come empathy, compassion, understanding. You might be interested to know that ( I think it was a U MIchigan) study on college kids said that the capacity for empathy has dropped significantly over the last few years. I wrote a speech on this for PhD students, and included the stats that during that same time, computer and device use skyrocketed to 10–14 hours a day. I don’t think this is an accident. For many who are a lot younger, empathy is a concept these days, not something they feel directly because of disengagement. What you talk about, we only learn with time and experience.

Your perspective and experiences are your truths. I don’t pretend to speak for you or anyone else. What I hope to do is challenge notions about aging, and begin a discussion. Yours isn’t a lifestyle disease. My post concussion syndrome, I own that. I brought that on myself, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Like you I am permanently “tethered” to a treatment, without which I become suicidal. Not pharmaceuticals, but it’s the same thing. I have to maintain it or pay the price. That’s another story.

My suggestion, probably more than anything else, is that we don’t always have to accept commonly held notions about aging. At 65, while I deal with limitations just as we all do, I am always trying to push those boundaries out. I find that a great many other women my age (especially in Colorado) do the same. Some can’t. That doesn’t make anyone right and anyone wrong. What that does say is that our journeys are sacredly different, and I use that work intentionally, what we bring into our lives to deal with is there for us to study, learn from, and work with as best we can. There was no implication that someone should do this, that or the other- but simply that we can choose — and I believe you’ve done this -to embrace what we work with and within the space of that do the best we can.

A dear mentor of mine who died at 93 almost two years ago said to me once that she wished she were forty again, not for the youth, but because she had so much work to do on safe water sources. She wore her age gracefully, and the way she lived her life informs much of how I life. While we in American worship at the feet of pre-pubescence (oh please) I love being 65. I’ve earned being 65. What I hope to achieve is a vibrant and healthy 65 within the boundaries that contain my life. I’ll continue to push them out til I hit a wall. Sometimes you have to honor the wall- as with you, your diabetes. With me, potential CTE.

Those are realities. We become ludicrous when we chase youth after youth has left. A youthful spirit, however is something else again. A youthful attitude. A well body, as well as we can make it, for any age, is worth working for. Trading off the lessons of age for the appearance of youth? Nah.

I do hear you. And I honor your perspectives as life has taught me to honor anyone’s perspective with the single exception of those who fling hate and vitriol to simply do damage. That, there is no time for. Life is short enough already. There’s plenty of mental acreage for differences, from this we learn. The others, thank heaven for the option to Block. That’s why I spend more time on here than Facebook, because opinions- like yours- are offered with thought and perspective and respect. Big difference.

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Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

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