I signed up for a self-improvement course called “How to Kick Ass Aging.” It’s three classes described as immersion training in septuagenarian life taught by a thirty-year-old with a master’s degree in arch supports. Kind of like going to a car mechanic who doesn’t drive or a male gynecologist. Still, it’s what’s available. There aren’t a lot of education programs for compiling your bucket list or living without knees. This spring I turned 68, the phase of receding fluids, grinding gears and Swiss cheese brain. But instead of shrinking back, I’m leaning in. By the time I hit the next decade I intend to be master and commander, accelerating into the curve.
The first class in the course is called “Techniques in Bladder Management: How to pee when you want to and not when you don’t.” If it’s not taught by someone with a catheter, I’m going to request a refund. My bladder rules my life. If I don’t have to pee, it’s because I just did. Ten times a day I sit on my throne and imagine what else I could be doing if I didn’t have to make the journey and do the time. Yes, I’ve read all the magazine articles, googled all the topics, and visited all the websites. What I found was a lot of conflicting information. Consume liquids, avoid liquids. Drink before bed, don’t drink before bed. Pee when you feel like it, hold it as long as you can. Train your bladder to behave as you wish, surrender to the urge. Peeing hasn’t been this big a deal in my life since I wore diapers, and I’m starting to see the advantages again. My goal is to sneeze with confidence.
The second class in the course is called “How to Move Like a Racehorse.” This is where the youngs got confused in their marketing. The first class should be called “How to Pee Like a Racehorse” and the second class should be called “How to Move When You Want To and Not When You Don’t.”
I got shin splints from over doing it in the garden, starting up suddenly, and pushing a heavy wheelbarrow after a long season of Kindle in my recliner. It felt good to be back in the dirt planting seeds, but I wasn’t careful about my footwear, and I didn’t pace myself. So, I’m complaining here. I would say one of the biggest issues with aging is not the aches and pains so much as the complaining that marks us as olds. Lots of athletes have issues with body limits, but they suck it up and move on. I feel guilty about complaining. I need a class called “How to Complain Shamelessly and Repeat Yourself with Authenticity.”
The third class in the course is called “How to Remember Everything That Ever Happened.” WTF! Are you kidding me? Is it ageism to say that this is an example of the folly of youth? I plan to heckle the instructor for the entire 90 minutes. My youth was not the best time of my life. I’d be glad if I could just remember where I put my car keys or if I took my vitamins. The last thing I want to remember is my first kiss. It was horrible. Or the time I threw up drinking strawberry daquiris at a beach party. I recently read that when our brains allocate space to memory, our biochemistry erases stored content to make room for the new content. So, remembering requires forgetting. Did we really need science to tell us that?
I see now that signing up for this course was a mistake. If I’m going to educate myself about what lies ahead, I should study with a guru like Iris Apfel. Then again, maybe I’ll teach my own course. I’ll call it “Performative Aging: How to Learn Something When You Already Know Everything.”