A woman looks over her shoulder at the nature in her surroundings - trees, flowers, birds, sun. Sections of the scene are captured like Polaroid pictures.

You Can Bank on It!

Every morning I walk (sometimes struggle) up the fairly steep hill from home to our shopping village, about a kilometer away. I do this partly because I know I “should” walk daily for any number of health reasons and also because I live in a beautiful part of Sydney. It’s a leafy area and the streets are lined with gum trees. Most of the houses have beautiful big gardens. It’s a hard walk for me, but there is beauty all around and I’m lucky.

The reward of a coffee at my favorite coffee shop is what keeps me going up that hill.

A recent walk ended with a twist

A recent walk started off no differently, but it certainly ended with a twist.

During the 20 minutes or so it took me to walk up to the shopping village, I managed to organize lots of things in my head as usual. I worked out what I needed to buy at the supermarket and bring home for lunch. I also reminded myself that I had to ask the pharmacist about a side-effect of a medication I was taking. For over five minutes I tried to remember what Netflix movie I had been watching last night, that I hadn’t finished and wanted to finish this day (I couldn’t remember!).

Sorting out thoughts in my mind

Then I sorted out in my mind who I still needed to buy Christmas presents for, and wondered if the things I had already ordered online would be arriving soon.

I thought about which day I should get the car serviced because I have some long trips to make over the holiday period (thousands of kilometers) and the service is overdue. Could I fit that in between a couple of doctors’ appointments I have this week?

And before I knew it, I was there, at the shops and sitting down ordering the coffee.

I hadn't noticed anything around me

As I sipped my coffee, inside the cafe in the air-conditioning, I realized that I hadn’t noticed anything about my surroundings as I walked up the hill. The sun was shining, but I hadn’t realized that it felt warm on my skin. I’m sure the eucalyptus scent was in the air because it had rained the previous night, but I barely noticed it. The birds are always calling out to each other at this early hour, but I didn’t hear them this morning – or it didn’t register with me. The late spring and early summer flowers are beautiful in the big old gardens, but I hadn’t stopped once to look at them.

Will I be able to appreciate them tomorrow?

Finishing off my coffee, I consoled myself with the thought that all those things will still be there tomorrow. And yes, they will, but it dawned on me that it would be better to really appreciate them now, each day, while I can. My sight is good at the moment, just the odd wiggly line occasionally, but who knows what tomorrow will bring for any of us. Macular degeneration isn’t the only medical condition that many of us deal with as we get older.

I was trying to be positive, not pessimistic when I realized that perhaps one day I won’t be able to do this walk anymore, and I’ll wish I’d paid more attention. I’ll wish I could see and feel and hear these things again.

Building up a savings bank of sights

I began to think of it as insurance, or savings, and building up a bank of sights, sounds, smells, and feelings, just in case. I’m going to store these up for the future, no matter how long down the track it might be until they’re needed.

All these things were decided over that cup of coffee - it certainly got my brain working!

Banking my memories

On the walk home (downhill) I tried to stay in the moment. I pushed away the thoughts of what I was going to do later. I did feel the sun on me, and I did see the late camellias and I stopped to smell the early Jasmine (no roses at this time). The kookaburras were still loudly organizing their day, as were the cockatoos, and I paused to listen to them and see if I could spot them high up in the gum trees.

When I eventually walked in the door I had no idea what I was going to do next, but I had started banking my early morning memories, and I plan to add to that every day.

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