More is in You

While our minister, Rev. Michael Leuchtenberger, is on sabbatical, we will fill our Musings space with insights from our members.

by Tom Herbert

“God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change. The courage to change the things we can. And the wisdom to know the difference.” I am sure most if not all of us are familiar with the Serenity Prayer, but how does it apply to aging?

As we age what are the things we cannot change and how can we accept them? How hard is it to accept them? What are those aspects of aging that we can, with courage, change? And how do we know which is which?

I try to live by the motto of the ROPE class I taught for 25 years at Concord High School. “Plus Est En Vous”. Literally it means, “More is in you.” At the first Outward Bound School in Aberdovey Wales, it came to mean “More is in you than you think”…that our horizons are self-made and that we can push them back with courage and hard work. As I age, I see those horizons trying to creep in closer and closer, cutting off my options and visions. How can I fight back? How can I push them back, if not all the way to where they were or beyond, but at least to a place of my choosing? Does “Plus Est En Vous” apply only to those physical tasks I face on a daily basis or does it also apply to the mental blocks I have?

A small, somewhat mundane example…I know I tend to be a picky eater. Pickles? Forget it. Beer? Not for me. Wine? Same response. So the question facing me when I went to Vietnam in November was, “Am I going to starve or am I going to push back those self imposed limits?” I tried it all…squid, beer, rice whiskey, and more. Did I like it all? No. But I tried it. I made a conscious effort to change my limits. Oh, and I tried fried pickles this summer! Next time they come around, I might pass on those too!

The same holds true for me on a deeper level. I don’t like asking for help or assistance in doing things. I like to think of myself as strong and capable. Yet my Parkinson’s and age have limited me in what I can do easily like I did before or, now, not at all. “Plus Est En Vous”….I can choose to push back against those self imposed expectations and graciously accept the help that is offered or not.

I know this is called “Member Musings” and I have asked more questions of myself (and you?) than provided answers to anyone. I hope that by asking the questions I have started or continued our thinking of possible answers. They won’t be universal answers, as we are all different.

But as I further age and the Parkinson’s continues its relentless march, I hope I have the serenity to accept what I can’t change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to recognize the difference. I know that in the end this is a losing battle. But battle I will. “Plus Est En Moi.