“The buck stops here.” President Harry Truman
When I started this journey on being “Fit for Life,” the first submission was that of physical fitness. And, while I don’t intend on visiting that again for a while it is a caveat for this article. This month I wanted to address the topic of personal responsibility. Personal responsibility is at the core of everything you hope will happen in your life. While we cannot control all those things that happen to us, we are in control of our reaction to those events and circumstances.
When is old, old? When does old become elderly? This morning I walked into the grocery store to buy a bag of dog food. I picked up a 50 lb. bag and threw it over my shoulder and walked to the checkout counter. Several people gave me the look. You know the one. It’s the “Okay, show off!” look you get when you do something the other person wouldn’t or couldn’t do themselves.
While I’m the oldest person in the department at the college where I teach, I only confess to being 37 years old. However, I’m often the butt of a lot of “old” jokes, some of which have been hurtful. And, of course my 40 year old daughter wonders just how she happened to be born before I was. I tell her that the stork brought her as a toddler and that we thought she was so beautiful and loved her so much that we decided to keep her.
So, what does all this have to do with personal responsibility?
Old is not a matter of age, it is a matter of individual responsibility. It is not some arbitrary blanket benchmark someone decides it should be. I am responsible for my health and well-being, and for maintaining the strength and sharpness that will serve me with a quality of life that I believe I can and should be living. I don’t need or want anyone else to tell me my limitations. The prevailing attitude I see all too often is reflected in a sign I saw recently from a homeless man, “Give me a job, or give me money.” Ugh.
So, when do I think I’ll reach the age when I’m old? I decided today that for me it will be the day I no longer am able to throw a 50 lb. bag of dog food over my shoulder and walk a half a block or so to my car parked in the parking lot. Personal responsibility should be no harder than that – looking to yourself for the things that you want in life. The Grief and Wellness Group can clear the way for you to discover that for yourself.