Early Autumn Thoughts

Early_Autumn_SunsetSometime overnight a thunderstorm passed slowly through with welcome rain, bringing relief from the hot, sultry sleeplessness. This morning dawned dark, with a low overcast, and a spirited breeze from the northwest. The maple tree that frames the view from my office window is a Christmassy blend of red and green already, markedly turned since yesterday. Further towards the lake gusty looking clouds are rolling in from the mountains. Overhead, the crows are engaged in acrobatic flight, clearly enjoying the stiff breeze!

Last evening was our street’s annual party. For a while we’ve been a graying lot, but our street is rapidly changing and yesterday’s event was blessed with more young people and kids than in recent memory. It was splendid to have such diversity, and the reminder that life is cyclic and actively prone to renewal!

I, too, am in the process of change. For several years I’ve been told by my Polio team that Post Polio Sequelea is a progressive illness. This past year has forcefully demonstrate that, requiring me to finally pay attention. As a result, I am more focused on art making, writing, and creating photography, as well as on simply being with family and Mother Earth, and less on work, even as most of my friends remain deeply engaged in their work lives, and in raising children.  In the process I’ve discovered just how much of my social world is work centered.

An odd side effect of all this change is I find myself increasingly isolated. This is a disturbingly familiar experience, hearkening back to my childhood and young adulthood. Part of the challenge is that I have less energy, and have yet to figure out how to use it wisely; this is a moving target! Introversion and disability are also a challenging combination, and it probably doesn’t help that I have a very dry sense of humor! Now we can add aging and increasing mobility issues into the mix!

I’m approaching my 69th birthday, so find myself deeply embedded in the world of the West, and approaching the North.  (A gust of West Wind just blew through the room in agreement.) I like being asked to teach what I know, and see no need to charge exorbitantly for that. I’m bewildered by the idea one can become a shaman by taking an online course, and by the incessant fighting over who is or is not a shaman, or Native for that matter. It seems to me the spirits and genes choose who they will, and we can try to be useful when people need help sorting out their relationship to those beings. Sometimes I wish I had a thicker skin.

Here in North America we are heading into Autumn and the West, so I guess my musings and conundrums fit right in. In fall we are reminded that we are, after all, both individuals and part of the Whole Thing (both waves and particles?). We are also literally made from the water we seek to honor and protect.

Over to the west there are breaks in the clouds and patches of blue sky. I’m also hungry. Maybe it’s time to go out and see what surprises the world holds for the day.



24 thoughts on “Early Autumn Thoughts

  1. As I read your opening line, a crash of thunder sounded on something my wife is watching on tv. I love (seeming) coincidences like that.
    Sorry to hear about your current health problems. As always you are very philosophical and positive about it.

    1. Andy, Thank you. Even after more than sixty years, I find myself caught up in memories of the acute illness, and of the ways that made my life. I became ill in early September, rather late in the Polio season. Living wioth the “late effects” is a challenge for many of us, and we do our best to wrestle whatever ease and goodness we can rrom the experience.

    2. Andy, I wrote a response to your lovely comment, but it appears t0 have vanished into the internet ether. Yes, coincidences are grand! Jung called them synchronicities, a very long word for a mystery don’t you think? . Anyway, I suspect we share a need to wrestle meaning from our experiences, good and ill. I often imagine that meaning making is pretty much everything.

  2. Hi Michael,
    I’m sorry to read that your health issues are worsening. I’m so impressed with the way blogging helps connect people all over the world. I have a cousin whose mobility is almost non-existent, but he has an incredible network of very intelligent and supportive friends online through FB. It’s not quite like going for a walk with a neighbor, but it’s surprisingly social and satisfying– almost as good as a virtual cup of coffee, and you have already created a warm community through your blogging. Sending warm wishes your way.

    1. Naomi, Thank you for this kind comment. One of te more difficult aspects of PPS is that one can plateau for long periods of time, then have a period of decline, before the next plateau. It is s though every time one settles deeply into a way of being, everything changes. It is seldom life threatening, but it is mobility reducing.

      Yes, I treasure my internet friends. I also am reminded that my friends here are often up for a coffee and chat; I simply need to reach out to them. Perhaps I will discover that as I work less, I have more energy for that. Still, that old terror of isolation returns.

  3. So many important reflections about the autumn years of life, Michael. Still, your posts reflect wisdom and a beauty of spirit honed by the resilience that enabled you to survive despite tremendous pain and suffering. Your work touches and teaches so many others. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with such honesty and eloquence.

    1. Thank you Carol. Writing, as you know, is an odd habit. One truly never knows what piece of writing will touch others, and find a needed audience. I suspect I write as much for myself as I do for some imagined, much needed audience. I hope I am listening as well.

      1. Opps. Sorry for the strange comment, Michael. I should never answer comments using the drop-down message center. Your comments appeared next to a photo of Patrick and I’m still not fully awake.

        Your writing is so elegant, Michael. It’s as if you hold a paintbrush when you describe scenes and thoughts.

  4. We also feel the isolation that comes with disabilities. It is important to remember the good things in life, the blessings, and enjoy the day to the best of your ability. A little treat doesn’t hurt either 😉

  5. I’m sorry for your feelings about your health Michael. I came to think about, what you wrote about isolation and as I view life and men in general, they do often have their social contacts through the job and much less through the family and friends from home. It looks like being your challenge too and doesn’t make it more easy with the disability upstairs.
    Wish you a beautiful and colorful autumn.

    1. Thank you Irene,
      I am lucky to have family who embrace and seek me out. I also have work, and some students who stay very much in touch. I also have a machine that takes me up and down stairs at home, and an elevator at work! Still, the world is a challenging place to navigate.
      Fall seems to have finally arrived….. Still, way too warm and dry though.

  6. My heart ached for you as I read your post – because I understand. I am so angry as I realize that self-care is now my full time job when I still want to make a difference in the world. I still find joy in relationships (when I feel good), being alone with my thoughts (also an introvert so I have to work to limit this time), observing the cycles of nature, and photography. On-line relationships are filling the void of work relationships. It is hard to learn how to modify functioning because of a disability when aging is also increasing fatigue and body aches. Fibromyalgia is not degenerative, but aging is. 🙂

    1. Pat, I have sat with your note for a week. I am deeply moved by it, and find myself resonating richly. I think disability just amplifies the challenges of aging. Being an introvert myself, I also imagine I take it all more personally than most extroverts. Give I am still working, although certainly cutting back, I have social interaction, which is so very difficult to let go. At the same time, I crave alone time…… Like everything, it is indeed complex. All that said, I so value your writing and the connection we share.

      1. I think those of us who are able to face and hold on to the complexity of aging (and disability) also need to hold hands as we grapple and come to terms with it.

  7. Ageing is so interesting. So many insights, thoughts, and reflections.
    I love the wisdom that comes with age, but not the physical limitations.
    I find myself craving isolation as I get older. I think I’m growing weary of the world, and at 50 I am relishing the thought of retirement.
    I’m certainly no expert on this, but at some point I imagine that we have to learn to be kind and gentle to ourselves.
    Take great care Michael. Your teaching and kindness is very much needed.

    1. I find myself torn between engagement and withdrawal, work I love and retirement….. Having faced the impacts of Polio all my life (almost), the normal challenges of aging seem to become amplified, and being kind to myself, or anyone really, becomes much more of a conscious activity. The world really is wearying! Yet I still like it here – it is, after all, also beautiful and I get to be with people I love, and to share with those, like yourself, I have grown fond of and respect.

    1. Yes, 69 seems rather unobtainable doesn’t it. Post Polio is progressive, with plateaus, but can be largely managed, if not conquered. Still, life is good and I am grateful. Be well!

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