The Goddess Speaks
Life near 60 better than TV ads let on
Lately, watching TV in the evenings has been an exercise in depression. I might feel reasonably healthy when I sit down to watch the news, but by the time I've been subjected to the commercials on insomnia, acid reflux and bowel problems, restless leg syndrome and hearing loss, I begin to get the idea that being nearly 60 is hazardous to my health and a worry to my future sex life.
Further, the message seems to be that we all have to be perfect, and if we're not, pills can help. It's not that I reject medical intervention for serious conditions, but I just wish TV did not portray everyone my age as being fixated on sleep, sex, stomach and bowels.
I accept my imperfections. They're part of who I am, and I realize that I will have the occasional restless night and that I don't do all that well on macadamia nuts and chocolate. I find it reassuring to know that I can survive as I am, even if that survival isn't always error-free or elegant.
Mostly my systems work without chemical interventions, and when I need medicines for things like infections or arthritis, I take them. But I don't expect to sleep perfectly every night or eat a Mexican dinner without some fallout. Being sick is one thing, but expecting perfect systems as an entitlement is just too reductive.
I like feeling well and sleeping well, but the truth is, these rewards generally aren't the result of pharmaceuticals, but rather the outcome of attitude, exercise and discipline. Weak as I am when it comes to goodies like after-dinner coffee and macadamia nut ice cream, the truth is, I feel better when I don't indulge, and when I do indulge, I live with the resulting acid reflux and insomnia. Unlike the beautiful people on TV, I don't always do everything that's good for me.
I enjoy my life with the risk factor built into every meal and every night's sleep. I can't say I'm all that joyful about approaching 60, but I accept the trade-offs. I wish the media would stop pressuring me to medicate my way into perfection.
In my world, everything works only most of the time. I can live with the fact that my sleep 'number' ranges from two to seven hours, and in fact, I don't know anyone my age who actually sleeps eight hours at a stretch. Anyway, who would want to be comatose every night and miss the wonder of an unexpected meteor shower or a full moon as large as the window?
My restless trips to drink water or go to the bathroom serve to remind me how precious sleep really is, and I enjoy the warm breezes that drift across my bed those nights when sleep eludes me. In truth, the ads offering perfection miss the point: Life, like sleep or sex or even digestion, is imperfect, and so am I.
Cris Rathyen teaches English at Moanalua High School.
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