Here’s the story. Two years ago, I signed a three-year lease for a new Toyota Prius. I love the car and love the gas mileage even more…to the tune of 50+ miles per gallon. But this lease came with a limitation…a mileage cap of 12,000 miles per year. At the time, my driving was way under 1000 miles per month, and this did not seem like an inconvenience. It was easy to accept!
Ah, but I did not foresee selling my home and moving 200 miles away, to northern Wisconsin. I did not foresee the mileage I’d put on the car, driving between the Twin Cities and my new home at least twice per month. I did not foresee how transitioning into a rapidly growing professional field would require in-depth training, available only in the Twin Cities.
So, I am facing physical limitations…on how much I can drive. And it is definitely a change of lifestyle.
I now live out in the country, in the middle of beautiful hiking trails, framing a lovely river and a welcoming lake. My moratorium on driving has forced me to carefully plan my grocery shopping trips to a town eight miles away. Since we don’t have mail delivery, and our post office box can fill up quickly, we need to make the trek to town to pick up the mail every day. It’s five miles, round-trip.
Dealing with this geographic limitation has brought many gifts, including acceptance. I’ve started a garden, which next year (hopefully) will produce a lot of the fresh food I’ve driven to the grocery store to find. I often walk to and from the post office…and my path includes a hilly forest trail for nearly half the way, combining enjoyable exercise with errands.
This geographic limitation requires that I slow down, that I appreciate what is right in front of me…like the tamarack trees getting ready to shed their needles, turning light green against the golden and rust grasses in the bog. Instead of revving up the car engine to head off somewhere, I’m at my canvas, working on the next painting.
Acknowledging our limits
What about the physical limitations of our bodies? The lessons seem very similar. As we age, we have to work harder to do the things we could do in our twenties. And some of those activities move beyond our reach. It doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy being physically active well into our elder years. I am certainly planning on it.
My point is, however, that as we face into physical limitations of whatever kind, we can probably find some gifts. Maybe we don’t go out for a two-hour run; maybe instead we transition into walking briskly for an hour every day and find time to knit, or meditate. Maybe it’s just one glass of wine with dinner. An early bedtime is increasingly appealing…and we feel better physically as a result.
As for the Prius, its lease will end next year. In the meantime, I am enjoying this particular spot on Earth, and my increasing familiarity with it. How about you? What limitations are you facing? How do you practice acceptance?