This blog is part of an ongoing series that answers an intriguing question: What might it mean for older adults to claim that they are still “fearfully and wonderfully made?”
Occasionally I spend time looking at parts of my body that aren’t working like they used to. For example, I’m noticing that, despite exercises to improve this condition, my neck wattle is approaching the size of a turkey’s. (Even if I am only a metaphorical turkey, this is not good!)
After a few of these observational moments, I come to a question that might also occur to you: Am I actually rotting away? Not metaphorically—I’m talking about actually rotting. Like the melons on my kitchen counter, left from this past summer’s watermelon seed-spitting contests. What if I just sat in that same space for several months without moving? Would I gradually start to decompose or oxidize, eventually turning into a shapeless blob with questionable odors?
This isn’t a theoretical matter when “the kitchen counter” becomes the metaphor for my actual life: Spending too much time sitting and too little time in life-giving activities with the lively people around me. Consuming large quantities of harmful chemicals—for example, diet beverages. Spending too much time hunched or stooped over beguiling screens. Settling for boringly dull routine as a sorry substitute for a well-spent day. Grooming and clothing myself haphazardly, like a wattled turkey waddling on its last legs. In these contexts, decomposing—or at least molding nicely—seem like likely outcomes for a person like I could become.
Gradual decay isn’t what I most hope for my life. (Not what God wants either, hmm?) I don’t want to be the most odiferous person in the room, nor do I want eventually to be put out with the trash. I also don’t want to spend my later years being totally pitiful or useless.
Any suggestions for a person who dislikes his own decomposing? If so, don’t send them to my kitchen counter.
Metaphorically, of course….