Old people are funny. Sometimes they're cantankerous, sometimes their witty, sometimes they go on and on and on and on about their days of yore. I like old people but my busy world and their slow routine don't always mix. I am around them a lot. I enjoy getting to know them, truly. But I come into said old person's home, interrupting their rather uneventful day, and I am a barrage of questions and movement, assessing, answering my phone, emailing, charting, medicating. Sometimes even in my listening I can be distracted. What I must be to them. A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown! (love you if you get this reference).
Watch this little interview snippet below with Terry Gross from NPR's "Fresh Air" and Maurice Sendak. He talks about his greater appreciation for life, how he has fallen in love with the world, and his advice for Terry is "Live your life live your life live your life".
I mean, we're all out here living our lives. We're not dead. But we can be disconnected. When I think of living my life I can jump to the freedom of being on vacation, of camping, of discovering a new city. Yes this is good living, but it is not every day living. Yet I think, know, that in every day living we can experience the same sort of wonder that we have in the relaxed vacation style state. It requires a very simple technique: Stop. Watch. Listen. Feel.
There is a pulse to life, even the stillness of my living room at this early hour, there's a pulse, a gentle hum of electronics, a gray sky beginning to change color, the thunk of the newspaper being delivered. Maurice, in his golden years, learned to love this. And this is a lesson we can learn from a "happy old man": Live your life. Even the parts you don't like, the parts you wake up dreading, embrace them as a moment that you GET TO HAVE. You are NOT DEAD. That's pretty great, right? That can change in a moment. Just yesterday I sat with a patient and watched her die in front of me. That will never not amaze me. And it ALWAYS makes me appreciate the fresh air, the trees, the pulse of the blood in my own body.
I like being alive. And I much prefer being happier while I'm doing it.