This is an article about hope, aging, and coping with our inevitable mortality.
We arrived at the Mill Casino Resort in Coos Bay, Oregon around 4:15 in the afternoon. I am sitting on a brown, pine, folding chair next to a wood paneled octagon-shaped table. A small green iron fence boxes off this outdoor patio area.
The sun is out; temperature is about 65 degrees. There are multi-colored flags flapping in the wind posted on the boardwalk directly in front of the little fence enclosure. Purple, yellow, blue, pink, and white flowers hang in containers from the lamp posts in between the dancing flags.
Most reassuringly, I have a gorgeous view of the bluish-green bay waters. It spans easily more than a mile across. Verdant mountains on the opposite shore project up like a horizontal pod of monstrous Humpback Whales.
To my amusement and amazement, great Pelicans circle in the middle of the bay, sometimes providing gymnastic diving stunts for a fresh fish meal. And, floating, twinkling, ferry lights, hover as the sun refracts off the calm, billowy sea.
I am also enjoying the warm rays of that mighty heat orb that caresses my white tea-shirt, tempting me to utilize my red swim trunks to plunge into the indoor pool. I smile for a moment, and glance down at the front of my shirt, reading the bold, yellow letters: "Author, Life Coach, and Therapist."
Today, September the 6th, is my birthday. I have just turned the big six and zero. My wife Susan is upstairs in our Native American, decorated, third story suite. She is getting ready for the recreational activities tonight.
I have considerable ambivalence about reaching this aging milestone. For the last sixty years, I feel I have been climbing the slope of life with enthusiastic and anticipatory expectations. Now, I sense I am heading down the slope to the inevitable final solution.
In addition, birthdays for me have been bittersweet over the last few years. My mother passed away from a brain aneurysm on my birthday eight years ago. She never regained consciousness from her coma. I didn't get a chance to say goodbye.
These are scary, depressing, and unpleasant thoughts. Can you relate to this somber muse? Here are a few ways I tried to cope with such normal but painful life changes.
First, I became more aware of the two Jacuzzis gurgling back of me in the patio resort area. Country music is playing softly in the background. It's time to try out the Jacuzzi.
Oh yeah; I'm in an 8 feet long by 5 feet wide, hot water massager; looking out at the clear blue sky. In the heavens to my right is a dim white, sliver of a Crescent Moon. The water jets exorcize all tensions and stress from my main muscle groups. My mind welcomes this form of release.
Second idea, the indoor pool starts to call my name; time for a swim.
I dip into the 24 feet wide by 36 feet long, clam-shaped pool. It's pleasantly surrounded by humid air inside the glass-walled pool area. A purple strobe light submerged in the lukewarm water embraces my body, which I propel by gentle breast and back strokes for about ten laps. At this moment, it feels easier to accept being sixty.
After my invigorating swim, another idea is to meander over to the lodge room. From the ceiling, huge, rugged, log beams are stacked crisscross, like we did with a set of childhood Lincoln Logs. On the adjacent walls, hang paintings of the Coquille Indian Tribe by artist Peggy O'Neal. The painted images and titles take us back to simpler more ancient times with examples of "Canoe Carvers" and "Sharing Stories" or the "Gathering Place."
My eyes are also drawn to the central attraction of the room: the open, stone fire-pit. The yellow-orange flames dance with knife-sharp, hypnotic motion beneath a brown, octagon fire funnel.
Next idea, I sit for a while on a nearby couch. My spirit merges with the primitive but comforting extravaganza of clashing heat and light swords; mood is further relaxed by soft, melodic, flute and sea gull sounds piped in as background music.
I take a deep, slow breath. The senses take me on a meditation journey where time and space are suspended. There is only the immediate now filled with pulsating emotions of life, joy, love, and peace.
For untold moments, I let go; and remain in this life affirming state. Gradually, my eyes drift to the boardwalk in view through the glass doors and windows at the West side of the fire-pit room.
Last idea, it's time for a walk. I pace off the boardwalk, with more than four hundred strides; staying close to the wooden guard rails that frame the extended deck. Easy to imagine being on a cruise ship smoothly gliding through the calm, rippling sea.
A healthy looking sea gull is perched not more than fifteen feet away on a guard rail post. The air is salty fresh; the bay waters gently move as a living portrait constantly changing with geometric convex and concave designs.
As I continue my walk, it seems appropriate to silently affirm in my mind, "I am whole, healthy, prosperous, and free of all limitations." In this mental and spiritual silence I become more aware that it's not so bad being sixty after all. And Mom, "I love you always."
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