One of the most common sentiments that my patients share with me is “don’t get old.” They tell me that “it’s no fun,” “it’s not for the faint of heart” and such. I completely understand this lament although I don’t know it firsthand. As a child, I daydreamed about the glamorous life of an adult. I assumed that life would be easier and less complicated once I’d finished my education and had a family and job of my own. Now I realize that was the folly of childish ignorance. The disagreeable truth is life gets more complicated and more difficult as we endure it. My personal belief has become that it’s most important to learn how to navigate and survive life’s turbulence and become a stronger, wiser, more tolerant person because of it. There will always be obstacles to overcome and there’s no shortage of physical, emotional and financial hardships that will remind us of the fragile human beings we are.
I enjoy hearing the musings of people who are more experienced than I am. I find that the sagest advice is gleaned when the person imparting the wisdom isn’t really trying to do so. Usually the lesson comes in the form of someone thinking out loud or sharing what they might think is a worthless anecdote. I have a patient who turned 82 not long ago. I remember the first day that she came into my office. She told me that she was still that same blond 24 year old on the inside although her physical appearance and capabilities no longer were. Our goal was to try to more closely align her physical being with her spiritual being by achieving better pain control. Mrs. K came to my office, for the first time in almost a year, last week. Unfortunately, she had suffered some acute illnesses requiring hospitalization, but had finally turned the corner and was doing well again. When I saw her, she was actually beaming with rosy cheeks and a big smile.
After reviewing her medical updates we chatted casually. I realized that a major positive impact on her health came from an unlikely source. The Golden State Warriors had brought her back to life. She is a season ticket holder and had not been able to attend any games until recently. She was loyally watching on TV throughout her convalescence and her only wish was for them to win on her birthday (they did).
Last week she was finally feeling well enough to again attend the Warriors game and her son escorted her there. Normally, she and her husband would go; however, having her son there made for a special memory as they bonded over a new experience together. As she told me the story, she twinkled like a young girl reminiscing about her first magical prom night. She told me how she was the only “little old lady with a cane” in the stadium, but everyone there was happy, courteous and positive. At one point she tripped as she climbed the stairs, but she never felt the ground because at once, arms were all around her holding her up and saving her from harm. Mrs. K was literally buoyed by the goodwill and harmony that was filling the Oracle Arena.
I believe that most people in the Bay area have been positively affected by the success of the Golden State Warriors. To many of us, they represent much more than a basketball team. Just when I thought that professional athletes were no longer fit to be role models, here come the Warriors! We are as proud of them for being personable, respectful and thoughtful people as we are of their near perfect record. They have become embodiment of what we can achieve as a community if we as individuals work hard in an unselfish way with a team effort. In short, they are gentlemen and leaders who exemplify what we are capable of at our very best. Whether they’ve won or lost, they have been gracious, patient and magnanimous. They help us feel young and give us hope of the possibility of a better day and a better world. The Warriors have taught us that life challenges are hard, but if we communicate with each other, give our best effort, protect each other and help each other, we can go far and further than otherwise would have been predicted.
I believe that Mrs. K’s emotional well being was affected by the “Warrior Positivity” which in turn benefited her physical well being. The more positivity you know, the more positivity you can imagine—even at 82 and despite life’s conflicts.