My recent trip to South Africa was very tiring. It has taken me more than a week to recover from roughly 24 hours (Cape Town to Johannesburg to Dakar to New York to Chicago) on airplanes. I'm gradually catching up with all the things I need to do, but it's been a slow process.
I am a great advocate of travel, but my basic advice is to travel to those really far-off places at ages younger than 75. Even if you're rich enough to afford a business-class ticket (I'm not, but I did), those long journeys are taxing.
Ronni Bennett, premier Elderblogger, younger than I, wrote recently about elder adaptability in a response to Dr. Bill Thomas' "Geriatrician Column" on her blog, Time Goes By http://www.timegoesby.net. Dr. Thomas wrote, “An older person wakes up to a new body with new requirements and limitations not once but many times. This reality batters our relationship to the status quo.”
After overtaxing herself entertaining a younger, very welcome visitor, Ronni ended up "feeling old and tired," as she says, and unable to keep up with her blog posting. She writes, "I have been wondering, as I've rested a lot, if pushing myself beyond my limit is an artifact of the constant cultural pressure to pretend that we are not old and that we should not reveal to others that we – or, in this case, I – cannot do everything that was once possible. Maybe yes, maybe no, but I suspect it was . . . part of my reason."
I guess there always comes a time when we must begin to admit to ourselves that we're no longer young. Even without major health problems (or perhaps my arthritis is becoming a major one), we tend to slow down. Giving up travel to distant and exotic places may be hard for me to do, but after all, I've visited all seven continents and seen most of the places on my "must see" list. My body is telling me to slow down.
The secret seems to be to do as much as we can do fairly comfortably, but not overtax ourselves. Give up? No, I don't advocate that, but for me, no longer will I pay attention to the "constant cultural pressure to pretend that [I] am not old." I am, and I'll have to deal with that.
I'm not sorry I visited South Africa. The trip was great. Meanwhile, there's always that faint dream that I'll feel great next spring and head off to somewhere else.