As I get older, I am increasingly aware of the many indignities of aging. As they say, it is not for the faint of heart. The loss of bodily prowess, the onset of various physical complications, the loss of physical attractiveness, the challenges of retirement, and most annoyingly our attitude toward getting old.
The term itself, “getting old” has a very negative sound to our ears. Old age is wrapped in a variety of cute little phrases that suggest it is avoidable. Most people don’t even use the word “old” when talking about others, substituting “elderly” or “senior citizens”. “You are only as old as you feel”, they say. No, you are as old as you are; you feel as old as you feel.
In our youth-focused culture, it has become negative to be old; the young can’t see themselves when they look at old people. How can they possibly imagine their bodies responding to the inevitable pull of gravity and the eventual slowing down of their mental and physical abilities? Too painful to identify with!
In my bedroom, I keep a little plaque that says, “Never regret getting older. It is a privilege denied to many.” And we have been around long enough to know a few things.
Despite all the losses and challenges, and there are plenty, there are many unique gifts of living longer. Time becomes sacred and each day holds its own magic. If we are lucky we learn the blessed trick of being present and living in the moment. Our past becomes a tapestry of precious memories, hard-learned lessons, regrets forgiven, and the future not taken for granted. We wake up to life, treasure what is, count our blessings, and grab any opportunity to make life less difficult for others.
And when we don’t want to go somewhere or do something, we can always pretend that we forgot!
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