Whitley and I recently slept on a bad bed in an utterly beautiful B & B in San Francisco, where we went for a book signing. Our room in this lovely old home was exquisitely decorated, but came with a bad mattress, which just goes to show, I guess, that beauty is only skin deep.

This sent us on a search for a good chiropractor, and I’m glad to say we finally found one. I was amused by something he told me, however.

First I want to say that I recently had an osteoporosis scan as part of my annual physical from my regular G.P., who told me, "You have the bones of an NFL linebacker." Well, that’s good, I thought–one less problem I can check off my list.

When I was at the chiropractor, he said to me, "You have a strong, muscular back–your ancestors obviously did some heavy work in the fields." 

I told him, "You don’t know how funny that statement is."

That’s because my "maiden" name (if that term is even used anymore) is the name of a primitive digging hoe–something people used when they couldn’t even afford a horse-drawn plow. My family is originally from the South, but we were obviously not rich slave-owners, we were out in the fields doing the work ourselves.

When I discovered this, years ago, I said to Whitley, "I have peasant genes–and your family line NEEDS this, because you’re all too overbred." His family line had been marrying the same upper class sort of Texans for years–people who had all the rough-and-tough stuff bred out of them and were now crooking their fingers over tea cups.

I remember when I finally asked a podiatrist why some people (like me) have flat feet. He replied, "We’re not sure, but we think they’re good for swimming." That brought forth the realization that my ancestors must have left the water for the land LATER than others. Does this mean I come from a more primitive lineage than most folks?

Put all these things together, and you’ve got one tough cookie. I’ve never considered myself to be a delicate flower–I’ve lived too hard a life to indulge in that sort of fantasy. As a teenager, I rode my bike for an hour each way to get to a movie because I couldn’t get anyone to drive me. As a young woman, I trudged miles in the snow to get to work because I couldn’t afford a car, and I always worked at least two jobs. I now walk an hour a day for exercise. No wonder I have big bones!

This reminds me of a man I met recently. In Matthew 6:28, the famous "Lilies of the Field" verse in the New Testament, Jesus basically tells his disciples, "Don’t worry, be happy." He tells them to "study how the lilies of the field grow: They don’t work and they don’t spin cloth So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we drink? What will we wear?’ So don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow can worry about itself."

Most of us probably worry too much–I know I do–about both little things and big things, most of which we don’t have any control over. I’ve often thought that it would be lovely to meet someone who wasn’t consumed by needless worries of this sort, and then I finally did.

It turned out to be someone whom I would have once considered to be FULL of worries, because he’s celebrating his 90th birthday. He has experienced illnesses of one sort and another already and can only expect things to get worse in the future, culminating (finally) in death–a day that’s not too far off for him.

I know an actress who’s 76 and says she thinks she has 20 years left. As someone who almost died 8 years ago, I’m always amused by this sort of thing: It’s like the dieter who thinks life will be perfect if she (or he) can only lose 10 pounds (no matter what they weigh, it’s always the same 10 pounds).

But this man definitely does not have long. He’s being pushed along by age and fate, but he seemed to have fewer worries than I do: He’s enjoying life and living for the moment, filled with plans for travel and adventure. To talk with him is like conversing with someone who has just completed high school or college and is bubbling over with future hopes and dreams, who has not yet harnessed himself to pulling any particular cart through life.

I hope I get older that way, and with my strong back, I expect to be pulling my own cart through life for a considerable time to come.

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