The Tin Man and Me | Opinion

Photo by Insomnia Cured Here, Flickr.

“Oil.” The Tin Man asked for what he needed to keep moving. He had been stuck in place for a long time, but with the help of strangers, he danced again on the Yellow Brick Road.

My friend Karl just had a hip replacement and is eager to dance. Ray is having his knee replaced and looks forward to swimming with Sebastian without pain. I had back surgery for sciatica, and I hope, with the help of physical therapy, to dance and swim as if I’ve been oiled.

My friends and I often feel like the Scarecrow who had the stuffing pulled out of him. We don’t belabor the coffee conversations with “organ recitals” but there is an assumed depletion of the means of being vital participants in life.

Facebook selfies are often taken in hospital beds, hopefully none of them showing the way the person wants to be remembered. Most conversations and posts are actually expressions of astonishment that we are as old as we are, and the things we used to do easily we can’t do anymore.

Growing old can be like the frog in the pot of water, the temperature of which is slowly rising. It happens so unnoticeably that we don’t remember anything other than our initial playful swim. But when we see our reflection in the side of the pot, we become aware our bodies are in hot water.

For some people, such awareness generates thoughts of just coasting to the finish line in a lounge chair by the pool drinking a martini or smoking pot in a hammock. The careers of their youth are over, and yet they wait for an opportunity to talk about their past successes. 

But just because we’ve rusted and need oil or feel we’ve been picked at by crows and need new stuffing doesn’t mean that we’ve yet experienced the peak moments of our lives. We may be walking with the help of a titanium knee, but our minds, hearts, and souls can still be young and enormously useful. 

Staying active as a being that reflects the wisdom of a lifetime of experiences can make it possible to help change the world in ways we couldn’t in our life profession, or with our family responsibilities. We have superpowers created by our years of facing and overcoming challenges.

There is nothing more rewarding to many of us than making a difference in the lives of others. Where might we look for such opportunities to defy the age we see in the mirror? I’ve learned that saying “yes” to the universe is what has given my life breadth and depth. 

A friend has asked me to work on the web page of a nonprofit that runs a school and health clinic in Haiti. I said “yes” not knowing much about Haiti. But I can help.

The pain in my leg needn’t prevent me from easing the pain in someone else’s life.

Photo by Insomnia Cured Here, Flickr.


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