Standing at the left cash register in the Island Hardware Store on Orcas Island, glancing into the back of the story, you will read: “If You are Lucky Enough to Live on Orcas Island, You are Lucky Enough.”
It only took me 12 years of visiting Island Hardware to actually see this huge sign that is discolored with age. It had been there a long time, but somehow I missed these wise words. They have had a profound effect on me, because, up until the moment that I read those words, I took being lucky enough for granted. I saw life as a struggle, and that no matter how good life was, I believed it could always be better. This affected my attitude and my moods. I’d be happier if only…
Throughout my childhood, every morning began for my parents, in the glassed-in sun porch, overlooking the beautiful Detroit River. They sat with each other, their coffee, the crossword puzzles, and, without their hungry brood of nine children. They immersed themselves in the beauty of the day, more often than not, before dawn. This was the only time in their overwhelmingly busy lives when they could be bathed in Nature’s essence. Sounds of the ducks and geese quacking and honking, the lake freighters and small wooden fishing boats cracked the sound of silence.
When we kids would wake up and interrupt my parent’s solitude, my dad would inevitably say, “Isn’t this the most beautiful day ever?” Because every day looked the same to me, I believed my dad was just making stuff up to make us look out the window and see outside ourselves.
Being lucky enough is an interesting experience regardless of what stage of aging we are in. Like, at six, losing my front teeth, I thought I looked hideous, but at the same time, the Tooth Fairy brought me some money! I felt lucky enough!
When I finally had my first boyfriend, I felt lucky enough to have someone like me. At the same time, I lost my sense of self by always trying to be what he wanted me to be. This was a lifelong pattern, one which made me pretty unhappy for much of my life. I finally got lucky enough when I got wise to the fact that I, me, myself, can value who I am, no matter what, and no matter who is around me!
We feel luck when we find a job and quit a job; marry our dream mate and divorce them. I feel lucky when I imagine the morning rush hour traffic somewhere else, as I easily drive to work, passing only a few cars on the road to Eastsound.
There is a saying about boats and horses, probably planes and other big investments, that the luckiest day is the day you bought your boat, horse, plane, . . . and the day you sold it. There are a lot of people who are feeling lucky enough right now!
Living in a small community, where going to the store is a social event in itself, makes me lucky enough. The clerks and cashiers who have been doing the same job for years, smile and greet me with a heartfelt hello. They are part of a network of people with whom I can laugh and be myself. I have a connection. This makes me feel luckier than most.
Every morning, like my parents, I sit with my coffee in the midst of the beauty of nature. I read and I write for the first hour of my day – not before dawn – ever. I feel lucky that my brain functions and allows me to string words together in at least a coherent fashion. I feel lucky that arthritis hasn’t kicked in, so my fingers are pain-free for now. I feel lucky that my trailer is warm and comfortable, and that my Island Goods coffee tastes exactly the way I want it to. And, in this phase of my aging process, I am able to access and utilize wisdom like I’ve never been able to before even today. This definitely makes me lucky enough!
After an hour of writing, when it’s time to take my dog Gracie for a walk, my hips and back are stiff and achy, but as I walk down my lane, and the aches and stiffness subside, I feel lucky enough to have such freedom to move about.
After six decades of believing I knew more, and was smarter than everyone else – especially my parents, I now have a perspective on life and myself that allows me to be more open to what makes life worth living. Even though I thought I was smarter, that didn’t make me I happier. I now know that I only have to be smart enough to know that I’m lucky enough.
If you’d like to join me in the AGING – Who Me in-person discussions at the Senior Center, we are meeting this coming Tuesday “ Feb. 14, 2017, from 1-2:30pm. For more information, or if you’d like to talk on a one-to-one basis, call me – Dr. Rosie Kuhn at 360-376-4323.