• Richard Portugal

Listen To Your Heart Beat



Did you ever listen to your heart beat, heed the ticking of a clock, or watch a leaf disengage from a branch and slowly spiral to the ground? They all illustrate the passage of time, that crossing of the border between the present into the past. Time is a powerful force, a dimension that binds us to its power more so than anything else on our rotating planet. It is a strict disciplinarian and ultimately ushers equality to all human beings—we will all confront our last breath, we will all die and thus we all are ultimately humbled. But to experience time is not only physical, but concurrently psychological. And that makes all the difference, for each individual consents to time’s cadence with their own distinct emotional acknowledgement.


When I was eight years old, life spread before me like a wide pathway merging into an unfathomable distant horizon. I went to school, teased my pretty neighbor, played ball, and enjoyed summer vacations as if those moments would last forever. The passage of time was simply not relevant, not at least to an eight year old’s view of life. The impact of a distant horizon was meaningless to one who had endless energy, who gave little thought to the road ahead (except perhaps what time to be home), whose body was growing, becoming taller and stronger. I could hardly wait for my next birthday when I would be bigger, stronger, and able to leap higher and run faster. The future only presented greater opportunities and excitements. The flow of time was but a mere partner in my growth.


I knew older people like my grandparents and others and so acknowledged the passage of time, but its implications were foreign to me. I thought that somehow their aging would continue unabated into the future, but I would never really age! The concept was psychologically incomprehensible. Like a young sapling in the summer of its youth, the excitement of growth effectively misted the distant horizon. My world consisted of the sunrise, the sunset a mere conduit to the breaking of a new day.


I am now a senior who has treaded the path of time and realizes that a once distant horizon is actually a much closer endpoint. The reality of time is now quite apparent and an appointment with my last breath a foregone conclusion. I now acknowledge that the sunset is far more intimate than the sunrise.


Physically I have aged, and yet psychologically I have not abandoned the quest for growth or a need to be strong. And that translates quite effectively into the physical. Since I exercise both aerobically and anaerobically, I have the energy and strength to perform activities of daily living with success and without conscious effort. And I am involved with clients who display the same tenacity to live in the present and not acquiescence quite yet to the hovering horizon.


I do not now disengage from the import of time as I did as an eight year old. Time’s passage is relevant and very much a component of my daily reality. My hair has become sparser and my skin not as supple so the mirror portrays one who has wandered a long and aging road. Last week I was at the dentist where the digital X-rays revealed their images instantly. The technician commented, almost as an aside, on how my teeth and jaw were healthy, only displaying normal bone loss. Normal bone loss! I sat up and, reviewing the digital images, confronted the passage of time as an image upon the computer screen. It only confirmed what I now know to be true—that aging is a dramatic and timely part of my life. The horizon approaches with measured cadence and the only true reality is the present.


To view an X-ray image of normal bone loss only confirms and highlights what is most important: that we live in the present and what occurred when you were eight years old or what might occur as you near the hazy horizon only establishes the importance of today, this moment in time. Physically the passage of our time on this earth continues unabated. But psychologically the passage of time maintains a quixotic mystery and still holds many surprises. The greatest is that we can only control this given moment. We can think about the past and plan for the future. But it is now that most crucially affects our timeline; it is now that most certainly affects the aging process.


In the world of a senior sitting in a dentist’s chair, the reality of time’s passage and the aging process can hold command (especially if you’ve had a scant too much Novocain). We can be dramatically reminded that normal aging causes a loss in bone density, slight shrinkage of the brain, a diminished ability to retain water within the cells, an increase in arterial plaque, a decrease in hearing and eyesight and a myriad of other issues both large and small. But how we treat our body and mind today determines how we confront those issues going forward. Let us remember that the past is behind us and the future can be positively affected by what we accomplish in the present. Live today and let the horizon take care of itself!




Copyright © 2018 Richard J. Portugal All rights reserved.

Submitted by Richard Portugal, Fitness Senior Style, LLC, 201-937-4722

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