Thoughts on Aging

I’m sometimes tempted to believe that aging reduces me as person, that at age 80 I’m less of a person than I was when I was younger, more agile, physically stronger, and definitely better looking. 

The prescription drugs I take every day testify that I’m diminished in some ways. Something like this is true for most of us in our 70s or older.

Alternatively, as we age we can think of ourselves as having gained something, that with aging comes wisdom, tolerance, and self-understanding, qualities that were less available to us earlier in life. Our perspective might have expanded to include a closer awareness of nature and a broader sense of humor; the possibility of spirituality might have unexpectedly arrived.

Still, the body does decline, according to its own clock and schedule, and our later years bring the unavoidable awareness of mortality. We all die. As this reality becomes more real, more personal, we’re inclined to notice more memory lapses, changes in sleep patterns, and signs of physical decline.

But these changes are natural, they are cues to look for more understanding of life itself, and to prepare us for the next big change. Seeing the body age we are confronted with this question: Is there a soul that lives on or do we just disappear, just die with the body? That’s sort of the ultimate glass-half-empty or glass-half-full dilemma, isn’t it?

Yet, as we age, feeling well and strong and capable depends a lot more on keeping focused on life as it is right now, in the present, and a willingness to be vulnerable and open to change, to choose to love without conditions, to feel and express our emotions to those who love and support us.

Making these choices is key to our emotional state, which has so much influence on our actual abilities and wellness. Feeling good will help you realize yourself as being more creative, as knowing more than you used to, as maybe having reached some level of wisdom and self understanding that can positively influence those around you.

My own mantra: Nothing matters so much as that you feel good.

And for now, the answer to life’s greatest mystery can wait.

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