We recently had to get a new refrigerator. The old one failed (the freezer worked but the regular part wouldn't chill). My husband noted that it was new. I pointed out it was 15 years old. We could have fixed it, but all its various internal elements were in disrepair, and it was REALLY dirty.
So off to Sears, land of immortal tools and home appliances, where the vast choices baffled me. I didn't know you could spend $7,000 on a home refrigerator. Contemplating that monstrosity, I recalled seeing young couples in Beijing in 1988 bicycling home, balancing their coveted new refrigerators, the size of ones we might have as personal coolers in an office.
I didn't spend $7,000, and the Sears delivery team brought me (delivery free with rebate) a nice trendy platinum-finish one with a freezer drawer on the bottom and on top, French doors, something I would usually expect to open to garden parties, not leftovers and bottles of condiments. This is a more convenient arrangement: the food you usually are looking for is at hand and eye level. The bending over is reserved for less frequent digging around in the freezer. And I expect the new arrangement will prevent small animals from entering the refrigerator surreptitiously and providing surprises on opening, like this:
I've been getting by with a lot of old things. For example, I consider my 20-year-old car, reasonably fuel and emission efficient, to be (in addition to satisfaction of my lust for fast sporty driving), a statement against unnecessary consumption (although it probably is also a resistance to aging on my part). But I must say, that with the top up, exiting the roadster is beginning to feel like crawling out of a hole, with some difficulty. In her 70s, my mother-in-law complained about how hard it was to get in and out of. I'm beginning to see her point.
Which brings me to my body, which I am compelled to realize is moving in an aging direction. I note that I have recently read a number of anti-depressant books about aging and death; they are accumulating over in the corner next to the books on how to clear clutter. Starting with Nora Ephron's meditations about her crepey neck, I moved on to titles like Life After Death (Deepak Chopra); The Thing About Life is That One Day You'll Be Dead (David Shields); How We Die, by some practical House-like physician; How to Live, (Henry Alford). Still on my to-read pile are The Book of Dead Philosophers, and the always curious Tibetan Book of the Dead, a translation approved by the Dalai Lama, so it MUST be true, although I read an abridged version once and it seemed a little like Pilgrim's Progress. ("Hey, Noble One...")
We leading-edge baby boomers are so preoccupied with the controlled progression of life we consult manuals on EVERYTHING. I read piles of books on pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing (after reading all I could about women's sex and orgasms); then books on gardening and cooking and homemaking, keeping bees and raising chickens. Then the ambiguously encouraging books on menopause, reassuring me that the worst time in my physical life would be the best. (Although I think there is something to that "post-menopausal zest" thing; it just doesn't come as quickly as you expect.) And now all these books on body decline and wisdom. All this stuff that a century ago people just DID, no book learning required.
But none of them tells me where I can get a new body with French doors and a more efficient ice-maker. For that kind of overhaul, I need to get back to my Taoist cultivation and meditation -- nothing that can be achieved by reading books. I need a Wudang tune-up.