My intention in life has always been to come to every day with joy and be fully engaged… but what it means to be fully engaged changes as you age. I’m slowing up physically and energetically, but I’m also finally maturing to the point where I can ask for help without feeling needy or dependent.

I bought a cane a couple weeks ago, leaning on it makes it easier on my sometimes-aching knees. Went to a pharmacy with a large selection, picked one out and when I took my first steps looking like a giraffe with St. Vitus’ Dance. My immediate reaction was to look around to see if anybody was watching me.

I know in my head how ridiculous this is; what I look like doesn’t define who I am, but in my unconscious mind (where self-judgement is deeply embedded) however appearance and performance still carry some weight). That defensiveness lasted momentarily and disappeared entirely when I was introduced to the “lift chair”. A lift chair is an adjustable recliner that has the added capacity to lift your butt out of the chair and deposit you standing upright. I tried it out and was immediately captivated. It stood me up without a twinge of discomfort, with my face wreathed in smiles singing praises to the genius who built this device knowing I was coming down this road.

I have finally matured to being able to gratefully accept all the help and support that keeps me moving and keeping on moving is the secret of life. I learned this 45 years ago from Pearl, an elegantly dressed, elderly woman whom I met entirely by accident when she walked up to me in the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art and asked me what time it was. I told her, and she continued to ramble on without a comma or period.

I was raised to be polite to old people and couldn’t just walk away. Instead, I let my eyes and mind wander hoping she’d catch on that I’d like to be elsewhere. Alas to no avail, and then I heard her say “that’s the secret of life”. That immediately brought me out of my reverie, and I asked, “what’s the secret of life”? Pearl said, “sneakers are the secret of life”. I had no idea what she meant, so she pointed to her sneaker-clad feet and said “sneakers are the secret of life because they help keep you moving.

Whatever and whoever support my moving, treasure them all…and I include my cane which keeps me able.

And as a PS:  You don’t have to wait till you’re really old to defensively ask for support when you need it; people genuinely want to help you, it’s a win-win for everyone.