Every day a little death
I went back to the eye doctor this afternoon complaining about how my new contacts keep fogging up during the day: they'll be fine for 20 minutes or a couple of hours and then a film will settle on the surface, like I smeared them with baby oil, and by hook or by crook no amount of cleaning will solve it. This drives me crazy: I want the thing that I paid for to work the way it's supposed to, especially when I am trying to see through it.
She put in some drops and then peeled back my eyelids (not a pain-free procedure, FYI). "How long have you worn lenses?" she asked. "Over 30 years!" I answered, as if expecting some reward. In fact it was a stunning admission, even to myself. Imagine being old enough to do anything for more than 30 years. Of course it's also the root of the problem: what I have developed is "giant papillary conjunctivitis" (barf), otherwise known as "a type of allergic conjunctivitis caused by the chronic presence of a foreign body in the eye." Turns out 30+ years of the "chronic presence of a foreign body in the eye" can sometimes have negative consequences. Who knew?!
Someday I would like to meet a person whose health improved after the age of 40. I'm not talking about miracle cures, either, or prosthetic limbs or plastic surgery or dramatic weight loss efforts, I'm talking about daily small victories of the body. Does this happen? It does for people who quit smoking, I suppose, or drinking or [fill in the bad habit blank]. But it can't all be downhill for everybody else, can it? Where are the good stories and who's telling them? What clears up? What gets easier? What gets better? Something: just tell me it's something.
At the same time I do find it all fascinating. It helps me to remind myself that we're born to decay. Aging is what's supposed to happen; it means we're doing it right. Reading glasses, knee pain, wrinkles, root canals, gray hair, even hair in new places, all of it is earned. I mean, don't be a ding-dong, I'm not saying I love it—it's not fun or easy or anything close to inexpensive, and I would sure as shit turn back the clock if I could—but I don't think denying it helps anything, or that trying to hide it is a way to go forward.
The only way forward, as they say, is through.