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I am 82 years old

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“I am 82” he said as he slowly shuffled on his feet, slightly bent forwards but with a cheeky smile. “And my wife is 86 years old but she’s not here”. I watched him move over the room as he carried his belongings to his bed to pack his bags to be discharged from the hospital. He took perhaps 40 steps to cover the distance I could walk in 5 steps. He didn’t have much hair left, his voice was dense but loud perhaps from difficulty on hearing he felt that he needed to speak louder to be heard. Then I wondered “what has this body lived through, was did this soul experience in the 82 years he refers to?”

I’m in a hospital in Belgium accompanying my loved one. As his body is in its youth, strong and vital state he’s recovering really well. The ward he’s on seems to have a lot of older people coming in and out. As I had time to be silent for hours and simply observe I got to watch them, also in silence, moving very slowly, sometimes sitting and staring out of the window listening to their inner voice that I wish I could listen to. And yet I wonder if we are ever alone?

As there is a deep sense of gratitude for my health and wellbeing, I also feel very much detached from this body. Here in front of my eyes is an example of how it will not last, how those around me will not be there forever either. Loneliness settles and all there is present is whoever reaches out to help or listen.

Sometimes it feels that this is the longing I have, to comfort those who are old and sick, or dying. Not to say much, not to give or take anything away, but to be in that space of simply holding their gaze and hand. Then a gentle smile might break or a tear fall.

When I look back on these few days and what I observe I’ll remember these men, and the goose with broken wings in the garden. Also fragile, a little of out place but going about its day amongst other geese and pigeons, fighting for the same piece of bread that the visitors had thrown in their direction.


Then the energy and voice of Guruji filled me yesterday when the lovely 82 year old man waved goodbye as he left the ward. Not only Guruji as in Patthabi Jois but all saints and gurus who live to 100 and beyond, also in decaying bodies but with subtler qualities, healthier and mobile within their abilities. It was a good reminder to look after this body and this mind, and be ready to let it go as we all live in form and through form.


3 comments

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  1. Liz

    Beautiful Oz…what a wonderful reminder xxx

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  2. Lovely post, made me smile and remember my grandad, who lived to 93. xx

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  3. Prescient, as always, my darling… when “thinking” with your heart.

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