Bodhi Hanna Kistner (86): “Only After Sixty My True Life Began”At 60, Bodhi Hanna Kistner moved from Germany to India. Then she started practicing Kyudo, Japanese zen archery. At 70, she became a Kyudo teacher. Now she’s 86 and gives lessons in India, California and Hawaii.— You are 86 now and at 60 you started studying such a tough and physically demanding sport as Kyudo which you’ve been practicing for 25 years now. How did this even happen?— When I moved to India at 60, I was actually planning to practice gardening. But I accidentally met a Kyudo master, visited his class and developed a passion for it. To tell the truth, I was a terrible student. For a long time I did terrible. Even when I followed my teacher to Japan he was very displeased with me. Eventually, he even kicked me out of his class. He said I was hopeless. But I was so attracted to archery because it was not just a sport, but a way of life. Unlike the usual kind of archery, in Kyudo we aim not just to hit the target. A bow is only a tool that allows us to open up, physically and mentally. To make a shot, you have to straighten your back and slow down. If you master this art, which is extremely difficult, you can hit the target even with your eyes closed. It happens by itself. This skill of opening up to the world that I have mastered along with archery is most precious to me. That’s why I continued to practice despite anything. And when I was 70, I started to teach, because with age came an urge to share my knowledge.— What helps you to enjoy your life after fifty?— I think it’s the skill of living in the present that I have mastered in the last 25 years. It is the key to enjoying your life in full. Enjoying life doesn’t mean being unreasonably excited all the time. On the contrary, as I became older I realized that the first step towards finding the joy of life was to accept reality openly and sincerely, accept everything as it is. Reality is not perfect. But it is important to face the truth. This attitude works wonders. By the way, speaking about joys, after sixty I fell in love with dancing.
There’s a patient at the hospice who makes me feel uncomfortable.Henry is 76 years old, and has pancreatic cancer. He came to us from hospital, with a haemoglobin of 52. He feels a bit washed out, as you might expect. But he doesn’t want us to do anything.Here at the hospice, a patient like Henry might have a blood transfusion to help with his symptoms, and we could support him to get back home. I’ve challenged my own misconception during this rotation: that when we hand out ‘palliative’ label, we nudge a patient into a stream of medicine where all intervention is withdrawn.
In the old days, she would be propped up on a comfy pillow, in fresh cleaned sheets under the corner window where she would in days gone past watch her children play. Soup would boil on the stove just in case she felt like a sip or two. Perhaps the radio softly played Al Jolson or Glenn Miller, flowers sat on the nightstand, and family quietly came and went. These were her last days. Spent with familiar sounds, in a familiar room, with familiar smells that gave her a final chance to summon memories that will help carry her away. She might have offered a hint of a smile or a soft squeeze of the hand but it was all right if she didn’t. She lost her own words to tell us that it’s OK to just let her die, but she trusted us to be her voice and we took that trust to heart.You see, that’s how she used to die. We saw our elderly different then.
A full day in bed. Collapsed and tormented. Coming to a decision about letting go of my Alfa and buying Curry’s Astra. I WOULD LIKE to cry but tears don’t come . I fee like I am sliding down a greasy pole and losing all the way. Talk about the descending life. Take Izzy out of the structure and the collapse is on.
Now I have been to the Tuesday Urunga AA meeting and I begin to feel spiritually well again. I haven’t felt that way very often over the last year. The meeting was about the Global Comfort of the Fellowship. I have had that via Internet this year but less than usual n my local fellowship. No matter The day is here. I haven’t picked up. I was laughing tonight with People who were warm and beginning to feel like someone waking from a deep nightmare.
Time has eaten me alive, Pulverised me. Living with this disease has pulverised me. Val once said that Wal and I were spiritually tormented and I think she is right.