Like Bugs in a Bowl


Finding inspiration 

It’s very hard to think nice thoughts when your hair is getting thinner, your waist is getting thicker and your memory is experiencing intermittent disconnects in reception. Sometimes it seems doctor’s appointments, hospital visits and talking back to the television set is the only social life we have.

Staying motivated is tough

Getting older isn’t always about carefree living, travelling, and exciting new adventures like we see in those bloody advertisements. Sometimes it’s about living day-to-day with health issues, money problems, chronic pain, the death of a loved one and an ever-shrinking world. We try the 10 Senior Secrets to get unplugged, but nothing’s working.

There are days when we need a good kick in the bloomers to get unstuck from feeling that our quality of life is controlled by the compartments in our pill box containers. Or when happiness is measured by the availability of a handicap parking spot at the hospital.

There have been many articles written about the joys and challenges of aging. And most of us try to do what we can to support each other and be the best we can be in our crusty rusty years.

But if our thoughts are not in a good place, we can find it difficult to read about others who seem to be managing so much better than we are, as they travel the world, engage in sports activities or discover a new winter-of-the-soul love interest. For the rest of us, living our lives can become a challenge when we have to compromise or eliminate activities that bring us joy.

Wacky Poetry for the Mind

Some time ago, I found an ancient poem written over one thousand years ago by the Chinese poet, Hanshan. It came on a day I needed it most and it spoke volumes to me in its simplicity. I would like to share it with you:

Bugs in a Bowl

We’re just like bugs in a bowl. All day going around never leaving their bowl.
I say, That’s right! Every day climbing up
the steep sides, sliding back.
Over and over again. Around and around.
Up and back down.
Sit in the bottom of the bowl, head in your hands,
cry, moan, feel sorry for yourself.
Or. Look around. See your fellow bugs.
Walk around.
Say, Hey, how you doin’?
Say, Nice Bowl!

 Choosing what we see

When I sent the above poem to a friend of mine, she said, “It makes you want to think ‘nice.’”

Sometimes it’s hard for us to think ‘nice’ all the time, when we’re in pain and have to limit our activities. But Hanshan reminds us to practice mindfulness and stay connected to our world…and to our fellow bugs. His simple words suggest that moping and feeling sorry for ourselves can lead to isolation and despair.

Studies have shown that social interaction is critical for our well-being and ongoing mental development as we age. Regardless of our limitations, we need to remember to interact with others and continue doing things we love, regardless of our situation. And that usually means being in a constant state of renewal, as we adjust and regroup into our newly morphed selves on any given day.

12 Tips for a Happy Bowl

As a senior Living with Lupus and attending to a husband with many health challenges, my limitations seem to grow daily. But I am determined to enjoy life regardless of the ever-changing view. Here are some things I do that work for me

  1. Attend a monthly book club meeting with eleven other amazing women.
  2. Reach out to an online community on fabulous websites like Sixty and Me.
  3. Use my texting and Facebook skills to stay in touch with friends and family.
  4. Relax my mind and body through meditation and visualization exercises.
  5. Practice gentle yoga and deep breathing exercises every single day.
  6. Water-dance in the pool as I listen to music with my waterproof iPod.
  7. Share all the little joys and quiet times with my husband.
  8. Enjoy every minute I can with my daughter and granddaughter.
  9. Read good books to inspire and broaden my outlook.
  10. Play online scrabble and connect with people from around the world.
  11. Join a small group of wonderful friends every month for a pub night out.
  12. Write blog posts for people like you, on things that matter to me.


So to all my fellow bugs out there – Hey! How you doin’?
What things do you do to stay happy and connected in your bowl?
Please leave a comment and join the conversation.

See you between the lines,

Pat Skene 

22 responses »

  1. Thanks to a little bug named Boomerrantz, who got me started, I write a regular blog, too, and then sit back to enjoy the comments from readers literally all over the globe. It’s a way to feel connected, even as our personal world shrinks in on us.
    Thanks for the optimism in your post, and for the poem, Bugs in a Bowl!
    Blog on!


  2. Hi Pat,
    Thanks for another gem! Especially “being in a constant state of renewal, as we adjust and regroup into our newly morphed selves on any given day.”
    Using a camera to constantly renew my “vision” and then sharing that new vision helps me with the morphing processes. Both MAKING pictures and SHARING them requires a bit of discipline along with the release of a bit of creativity. Which reminds me: I WILL get a new post up to Brtthome’s Blog today!
    Many thanks!


    • Your blog pictures are always amazing Tom – always a wonderful display of nature’s state of renewal, a good reminder for all of us. Thanks for reading. Looking forward to your next posting. Be well.


  3. Loved your new article! They look like some of the Britt bugs when we arrive back there in the spring! 😂😂😂

    Sent from my iPhone



  4. If you find yourself living a sedentary lifestyle, because of health issues, I have found that acceptance and having a positive attitude very helpful. I also “live in the now” and change my thoughts(you can, if you work on it) as soon as they go to the dark side! Life is what you make it, right?
    Nice Bowl! … love the poem. 🐞🐞🐞


  5. This bug loves getting outdoors whenever possible. Winter 2018 in SouthWest Ontario has meant storms, cold temps, lots of snow, ice, and, a period of warmth in the past week that has green grass showing off in the garden. I am in a walking group with other aging bugs. We do about 7.5 kms whenever the trails in a local park are clear of ice. Great exercise, fresh air and new perspectives from fellow walkers!


    • Yes, music most definitely replenishes the soul. How wonderful that you enjoy writing and singing your own songs. I recently discovered the beautiful music/chanting/singing of Krishna Das. It has transformed my quiet moments into pure joy. Thanks for your lovely comment.


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