|Posted on May 31, 2018 at 8:00 PM|
Whenever I re-watch an old loved movie from many years ago I’m often surprised to find how little I relate to it now. It’s dated. Which means I’m dated.
And the movies keep becoming progressively irrelevant to the times. This is no criticism of any movies. It just means I’m getting older. That’s fine with me when I consider the alternative. I’d prefer to be able to keep my 30 year old body, but doctors keep telling me, “You’re just getting older” as one body part after another let’s me down. What happened to loyalty? Seriously, I continue to re-examine my thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors in the context of my changing life manifestation. I think that sounds fancier than saying my body is going downhill.
I notice the topics of aging, death, and dying popping up more frequently amongst my same age cohorts. We’ve arrived to the point in time we had looked forwards to when younger and full of ambitions, hopes and dreams. A point at which we all hoped to survey our successes, achievements, and bask in our circle of loved ones. Facing disappointed dreams complicates aging well.
Despite an endless variety of individual circumstances, aging gracefully can be accomplished. Several factors are worth considering.
Acceptance and Self Forgiveness
Many of us have regrets in life, of mistakes made, or roads not taken.
We learn by trying things and seeing how they work out. Like school, mistakes are expected and also that we will learn from them.
The Chinese pictogram for crisis is the same as that for opportunity. This is important wisdom. Burdening ourselves by dwelling on the past, or roads not taken robs us of opportunities to discover a new future and leads to more difficulty accepting aging in the present and future. Understanding we are constantly evolving as individuals can help us forgive ourselves for past mistakes. We were a different version of ourselves then. Don’t assume that the road (regretfully) not taken would have led to a better life. Thoughts of the past done differently are a mirage of conjecture in our minds. What matters is to re-see ourselves in the present context.
Re-defining Who We Are Now
It’ll probably be necessary to rock our own boat a bit so that we don’t cling to an old identity that no longer serves us well. To keep the boat from tipping over, we’ll have to discover new ways of being and doing. We’ll have constant opportunities for choices, learning and discovering our new selves right up until death.
As Mary Pipher PhD writes, (Psychotherapy Networker; mar/apr 2018) “….We require fresh visions, better navigational skills, and new paradigms for framing our experiences. What worked yesterday will not be sufficient for tomorrow.”
Attitude by Choice
If not already resilient, we need to learn how to be so. I encourage you - google William Ernest Henley’s famous poem “Invictus”! It refers to our capability of re-training our own attitudes to be more positive and life affirming no matter what.
Both my parents recently defied medically predicted imminent death. I believe it’s very telling that Mom had taped the poem, “Invictus” onto her refrigerator about a week before a series of critical heart attacks. Similarly, Dad told cancer he refused to just give up.