The saying or mantra was this: “I will DO what I can, with ALL that I can, for AS LONG AS I can.” I was pretty sure I did not create this so several days later, I shared it with a friend and asked if it sounded familiar – it did not to him. Back home, I checked Google. And alas I am not the creative genius I might like to be (sigh) . My mantra is a Reader’s Digest version of a quote by John Wesley that goes like this: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” It’s a bit more complex and certainly longer, but the sentiment is the same. Because my “rememberer” is not functioning at full tilt these days I’ve decided to stay with my abbreviated version – I’m ahead of the game because I have already committed it to memory.
As a student of aging – having watched over my mother very closely in her final 6 or 7 years of life, and having spent over 4 years working with elders (at home or in hospital or other institutions) – I am particularly intrigued with my own aging process. In some ways I am not only living it, I am observing it as well. Getting older, with all its diminishments, is not – as they say – for wimps. But my sense is that for the majority of us, attitude is key. Being open to the process, being grateful for what we can do, being able to laugh at our foibles and admit to others what we’re having trouble with, all make for an easier journey into our later years. I do not presume to say that those who are chronically or critically ill would just “feel better” if their attitude were better. However, I think that for the majority of us who are “simply” getting older, with increasingly poor eyesight, diminished energy, hearing loss, and resident aches and pains, having a good attitude is critical.
So this is it again: “I will DO what I can, with ALL that I can, for AS LONG AS I can.” There is a looking forward here, a stake in the future – “I will do.” And there is personal responsibility – “I can” … not what someone else will do for me. There is passion and commitment here as well – “I will do…all that I can.” And there is too, recognition and acceptance of mortality – “for as long as I can.” I’m going with it.