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Maintaining who we are

 
master gardener
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I just had a brief exchange with someone with some years on them who is continuing to ride motorcycles.  I continue to  backpack solo ...not as much as I used to ...or as far, even though it has some risks .   As we age how do we maintain who we are as individuals and face reality?
 
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Location: western NY (Erie County), USA; zone 5b/6a. Can't exactly tell where the boundary line is.
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By adapting.

Who we are as individuals isn't a static condition, but changes as we age. It may come to mean more intangible things, such as intellectual or spiritual pursuits, than observable external things, like riding motorcycles or backpacking.
 
steward
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I become a new person about every 10 years. I'm not much interested in maintaining who I was. Too much anxiety, pain, sorrow, and grief associated with the old habits, ways, and beliefs.
 
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Giving up things gracefully is an art form.  Too many hide from aging, rather than embracing it.
 
pollinator
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Hi John,

Please forgive me but I'm not sure that I understand your question.

Who I am and what I do are two different things.  The things that I do, do not define me or maybe only in other people's mind.

Changes are inevitable and a natural process but why should it change who I truly am.  Over the years, my ideas, ideals, hobbies, jobs even my looks and beliefs have changed along with my ability to do things the way I used to, but at the very core of my being, I am and will remain the same. Wether I give up, hiking, biking, off-roading, or whatever, it doesn't take away my integrity, kindness, sincerity, and all the other things that makes me who I am.  My heart is still the same - this is my reality.

Well, this is the way that I feel and maybe, like I've said, I did not understand your question or your concern.
 
pollinator
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One of the challenges I'm facing is trying to do the same things I used to do when I was younger without adapting to how I feel now. For instance, weight lifting. I've lifted for 40 or so years (off and on, sometimes very intensely) but right now there is no way I can do the routines I did in my 20s. It's hard to face that so it's tempting to not lift so that I'm not reminded of the changes. But that's self defeating. So now I do light weights, lots of reps and whatever exercises I feel like doing. With loud, obnoxious music from the 70s and 80s. It was disheartening at first since it took so little to tire out, but I'm improving every workout.

I think it's the reminders of what once was that are hard to face, but I find it important to appreciate what I had and more important, what I have right now. I've also improved vastly in areas where I was a bit of an idiot when I was young, so it all balances out. Overall, I feel blessed.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Olga,

Mostly I was trying to open a broad area for discussion.   While we do change interests, we also keep some core values and practices...or try to.  My example of the biker sums it up.  Yes. I know many people who ride motorcycles well into retirement.... but there are real limits that cannot be ignored.  This person also shared that friends had recently died in a motorcycle wreck.
 
Jay Angler
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John F Dean wrote:

This person also shared that friends had recently died in a motorcycle wreck.

This is a tough one. As people age, reflexes tend to slow and strength tends to be lost (there are exceptions as always). If a wreck could have been avoided but wasn't due to losses, does that mean the person made the wrong decision? Or does that mean that they died doing something they loved, just as younger people sometimes die in accidents? Do we stop because of that risk, or do we accept fate? Let's just say that a line that seems very fuzzy when a decision is being made, may seem far more distinct in hindsight!
My dad died in 5 days from an undiagnosed condition when he was just 66 years old - he'd been playing badminton and tennis the week before he got sick.
My mom died over 15 years from dementia when she was 90, looking quite unhappy for much of that time. Who got the better deal?

I do consider it wrong when a person's action/decision or lack there of, puts innocent people at risk. But people who stay healthy by staying active and make reasonable choices about giving up rock-climbing in favor of lawn bowling, are wonderful to see and have participating in the community!
 
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I think you'll find many retirees feeling lost without that occupational identity. I've seen it in those transitioning from out of the military. Successfully accepting changes that occur as we get older can be difficult for some.  "Glory Days". what we have done, are part of what we are not who we are. Id, ego and super ego?
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