Friday, March 10, 2006

The Process Continues

One of the minor annoyances of aging appears when I finally get to sleep in and wake up early anyway. That explains why I am blogging at 4:45 a.m. this morning. My body says "s-l-e-e-p" but my mind says "WAKE UP!"

I stumbled across an episode of Nova on PBS last night. It was The Miracle of Life, a documentary on human conception, pregnancy, and birth. From the very first time I was pregnant, I happily researched this kind of information. I contemplated everything that was going on inside my body at every minute. I clearly remember one day when I was working at the hospital in Memphis. At the time, I was pregnant with Rachel, and I recall stepping into an elevator and meeting a friend, who asked how I was doing. I replied, "My baby has fingernails now!" Every detail was fascinating to me.

And it still fascinates me. How could it not? Back in 1977-78, I only had library books to devour. Now we have DVDs with movies and photographs which are colorful and vivid and detailed of what is happening to a developing baby.

As actor John Lithgow's narration described the baby's dividing cells, the forming of nerve pathways, the DNA assignments, I was glued to the TV screen. Then he said something that really stuck with me. He described the literal building blocks and design of the developing baby, and mentioned that it was a process that would still continue through the baby's uterine existence and for years to come.

It is so tempting to think of in utero as the development, then the birth as the final event. But instead, in utero is stage 1, and birth is just the beginning. Our cells continue to die and recreate, our brain continues to develop neural pathways and lose others. Heck - every pound of fat we gain requires that our body build another mile of blood vessels! The whole life system is a process, continually regrouping and recreating.

And so is the process of simplifying, downsizing, and recreating our lives. That is one of the fascinating things about life, but it is also the most draining, in my opinion. My busy dad used to say, "...when things lighten up." But I don't think they ever did. It was always something because he was in the process of living. As are we all.

I keep thinking that after selling this house, building the next house, then moving and settling down, things will "lighten up," but deep down I know better. Life will still have its challenges and joys, we will still be struggling to simplify as we recreate our roles in life. The "process" started with me 9 months before September 27, 1954, and I hope it continues for many years to come. As the expression says, "That's life." And what a remarkable journey it is!


Malakela said...

I don't mind showing my ignorance [like I have a choice!]. This column is so beautifully written I'd really like to send it to my dd who is newly PG. Is there a way I can do that?

Miss Meg [Rex GA]

Carol Tiffin James said...

I guess, Miss Meg, you can just give her the link or copy and paste onto a word processing program and just print it out.
I highly recommend the DVD, too.
I love that documentary!