This morning on an early walk around the reservoir by my house I saw a couple sitting on the bench. They were older, both with white hair and moving more slowly. I was walking by and the sun had just come up and was sparkling on the water. They were wearing very well worn clothes, soft t-shirts and even softer khakis with flip flops. Both the man and the woman were wearing well-worn button up shirts hanging open. The sun was at their back and the woman was reading the newspaper. The gentleman was brushing their golden retriever. They were sitting silently, methodically each doing their own thing. They were so unaware of others around them and so very unaware of any judgments made of them. They were there for themselves, doing exactly what they wanted to do with the beginning of the day. The woman was intently committed to her reading and the man was completely focused on their dog who sat very proudly sunning.
I was struck by the impression of happiness that lingered around them. And yet, they were not doing anything that our society has recently placed emphasis on. They were not spending money, they were not wearing fashion, driving amazing cars, sporting trends, boasting of their wealth. They were not famous, and they did not seem like they were important. They were not talking or sharing their intelligence, they were not using any electronics. They seemed so happy and they looked so healthy.
Health is sometimes about being honest about who you are and what you really like to do. Sometimes it is about admitting that you can't keep up with everything and that you prefer slowness and simplicity. Health is sometimes about relinquishing the need to stay out in front of our society's race against one another. Sometimes when we feel unhealthy we need to get back to simple pleasures. Sun, vegetables, sitting quietly, our pets, fresh air. Somewhere along the way these simple loving things became less attractive and sought after than an iphone.
I told them they looked healthy. I stopped and said, “you know, I am sorry to interrupt but you both look so healthy.” In slow motion, because I was interrupting their individual loving tasks, they both looked at me. The man said, “we are healthy, I am glad you noticed. Hardly anyone notices us.” I asked how they stay healthy. The woman said, “we love each other and we take care of each other and we do whatever we want to do.” Both of them had bright twinkly eyes and sparkly smiles. I thought that in that moment if I had to be a dog, I would want to be theirs. The next thought, which I said out loud, was “I hope I feel as good as you do when I am your age.” The man said, “it’s not about hope, just take care of yourself, don’t do anything you don’t want to do and be kind to others. That’s all.” As I walked away from that sunny couple I thought of this quote: “Fresh air impoverishes the doctor.” ~Danish Proverb
I believe it is the simpler elements of life that are so intoxicating. Sometimes we need to put the gadgets away and the posturing and the constant driving action force and sit in the sun. Sometimes we need to be still. Sometimes we need to grow vegetables or sit by the fireplace. Sometimes we need to say we are no longer going to watch the news. Health strategies are different for everyone. The ones society has given us recently are not good for everyone. If you find yourself in an anxious unrest, see if you can brainstorm a simple and still activity to do. It may be just what the doctor and the older couple by the reservoir would order.