What If You Did Not Have a Choice to Age Well?
A new year is upon us. Yes, that means the hands of time are moving as they have throughout eternity. For those of us who are in the sunset and twilight of our lives, we recognize that sooner than later time ticks toward the midnight hour.
Many people lament getting older. Others who are younger prefer not to associate with people of a certain age because it reminds them that they too will eventually reach the later days of their life. Some hope that maturity will bypass them, and the fountain of youth will ensue.
As we know, no matter how much we maintain a healthy lifestyle and obtain cosmetic enhancements, mortality in this lifetime is our destiny, and our presence on earth will come to an end.
Now, you might wonder why I am being so blunt and, maybe to some, dire. Do I need to be so front and center to those who are of a certain age?
I say yes, because of the purpose of my message. You may ask, “What is that?” Unlike many of our peers deprived of the choice, we have succeeded in living as a sexagenarian.
Some Areas of the World Are Not So Fortunate
Many years ago, a young man came to see me for some support after re-entering the United States. He had been in a third-world country for an extended period and returned because he realized how easily his peers forgot him after being away for that length of time.
As we know, in our fast-paced, youth-oriented society, people easily become preoccupied, and at times, the adage “out of sight, out of mind” rings loudly. This young man was relieved to be back home ensconced in his milieu.
I talk about my brief encounter with him because of something pivotal he shared, which I never forgot. This young man noticed, as he lived and worked in a less-advanced foreign country, that he saw few if any older adults.
A few years after this memorable exchange, I was sitting with another client who, at the time, was a sexagenarian, as was her slightly younger sister.
This lovely client informed me that her sister preferred not to be around “old” people. I looked at my client and said, “Really now. Well, she has a choice to continue to age or not.” My client agreed.
Aging Has Its Challenges
Now, as I mentioned in other articles, I am not naive in recognizing that the aging process has its challenges. Although I am healthy, individuals with disabilities and illnesses have been a part of my inner circle throughout my life.
Also, I am well aware that growing older can be wrought with increasingly chronic health problems, memory loss, and fragility.
Although medical innovation continues to bestow us with amazing treatments, we have a long way to go before we tackle some very damaging illnesses, including the scourge of Alzheimer’s disease and the giant umbrella of dementia.
Another issue is that our world tends to get smaller as we age. Consequently, we must strive to find purpose and connection. If our brains still work, why not take advantage of using those precious brain cells to preserve the abilities still available to us as we age?
When asked, many people say they want to live a long life. That is fine, but is there much thinking about purpose during those waning years?
Some people are blessed with abundant families who continue to include them and keep them a part of their world. Others are not so endowed. Yes, life can be vastly unfair, but you still have a choice.
Would you immerse yourself in sadness and despair, which could contribute to withering, stagnation, and earlier death, or would you rather tap into some hidden talent or desire and explore?
If you choose the latter, be open to the possibilities, because you never know where they can lead you. Just think how exciting that might be!
Slowing Down Does Not Mean Stopping
No matter how you view senescence, longevity is your gift. I say, take advantage of what is ahead, and even if you tire more often and need more time to restore your energy, heed the ageless advice of the great Confucius: ”It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”
What is most important to you as you age? Do you think yourself privileged to be a sexagenarian? Do you consider yourself old? Do you want to grow older? How do you go about it? Do you see yourself stopping? Please share your thoughts and let’s have a chat!