In the early hours of this morning, I wake. It isn’t night and yet it isn’t day, not quite, although a weak light through the curtains tells me that it will be soon. I check my clock with my little torch. 3.30 am. In an hour, I will hear the sparrows in the creeper begin their chattering and the neighbours cockerels, sounding a little gagged from within the thin walls of their wooden huts, will begin to greet the morning.
I stretch and can feel the familiar cramp begin sort of half way down. This time, I let it come, but it rises too high and I am forced to shift and bend my knee until it ebbs away. I lie thinking of how I need to stretch, and not just my limbs, but my mind too.
As folk gain the weight of age, I notice many stop stretching. We’ve done our stretching, they say. Now we don’t do that any more. And they begin to compress and to rust.
Although our bodies have the most wonderful capacity to repair on a day to day basis, we do have to work harder to stretch, to keep supple, but we also must understand that our repair mechanism will never be as efficient as it was when we were 30, or even 50. And why should it? Bodies break down, of course they do. Not one of us can live for ever, and our own aging process is just the way it is, for us. Some are ‘lucky’ some are not, but we all must face it and accept it with grace.
However, and I always have plenty of howevers up my sleeve, this is not the same with our minds. These hidden computers can kick ass long after our bodies, and this is where we must sustain the stretch mechanism. We must oil it and work it, love and cherish it, make it new every morning, no matter what.
When I face something I don’t want to tackle, I am sorely tempted to push it away. Nobody would judge me for that, or even know, or perhaps, even care, but I would, and there’s the rub. Is it just me who thinks that to stretch is to reach, or, at least, to try? Not to stretch is not to know and then to wonder and then to regret. For me, anyway. I don’t want to waste a single moment.
As a young woman I thought I would live without effort. I don’t mean that life was without effort, quite the opposite in fact, but I spent no time bothering about my physical or mental demise. Nowadays, with two close friends gone too soon and too young, I understand both the fragility of life and its strength.
And its strength lies in my control to a great degree. Not by re-action to whatever life sends me, but by action. Not ‘waiting to see’ but watching and grabbing everything that comes along with a can-do attitude, even if, after trying, I can’t do.
I think, in answer to a recent question, this is how self-confidence grows. Not because I am brilliant at this, or at that, but because I gave everything, every single thing, my best shot, and each time I do, I feel good about me.
And then, if I miss the target completely, I can laugh at my failure, because nobody minds and nobody remembers it. What they remember is that I made that stretch.