The subject of aging is never too far from my mind. After all, I’m reminded of it every time I see my reflection in a window or mirror. Who’s that? I think at first glance, then I do a double-take. Oh, I answer myself, that’s the new you — or, I should say, the newest version of you. You left the previous you — the younger you — back at the station marked Yesterday. It’s a daily adjustment.
But on a deeper, more meaningful level, there are definite upsides to aging, I’m finding. By this time, we know things that only time can teach. The younger version of me would have loved to know some of the things I know now. She was always haunted by The Big Questions, such as “Where do I belong?” and “What should I do with my life?” Would she have been satisfied if told then: “Only Time will be able to give you the answers”?
So now, thanks to Time, now that I’m quickly approaching my seventy-seventh birthday, I’m happy to have a few answers. Perhaps you will agree…
By this time, we know who we are and where we belong. We’ve likely traveled out of our comfort zones and learned how to communicate with those who speak different languages and don’t look like us. We’ve eaten their food, danced to their music, and laughed at their jokes. “They” have become “we.”
By this time, our worlds have grown. We’ve read countless books that have helped to shape us. We’ve studied many subjects and excelled at a few. We’ve made many friends who have helped to sustain us. We’ve learned to count our blessings and cultivate an “attitude of gratitude,” as Oprah would say.
By this time, we know that every older person we meet or pass on the street or sit near in a restaurant has by this time known pain and loss and heartache too. These dark valleys on life’s journey, we now know, are inescapable; we’ve all been through them. Someone should have warned us years ago, but that didn’t happen. We had to learn our own way. This revelation has taught us compassion, which enriches the soul.
By this time, as our outer clay shells begin to break down and we realize that pretty soon — as dust to dust – we’ll return to the earth, we can concentrate on what really matters – our hearts and souls and minds. We can be more generous than ever before with all that we have left to give – our affection, our attention, our talents, our resources. We can leave memorable legacies that need never die.
By this time, we know we’ll never know all the answers in this life (“Now I see through a glass darkly…”), so we’ve stopped asking The Big Questions. We simply strive to live peacefully, breathe deeply, walk carefully, and try to be the best beings we can be in the time we have remaining.