Maybe I am just feeling my age more than usual on this chilly morning, but I have noticed that my peers and I are not just viewing our bodies as changing, we are dealing with aging in all aspects of our lives: mentally, spiritually, economically, emotionally, in all ways.
At my age, some of us complain about our sagging faces, bottoms and breasts, and we yearn to look like our children who have such smooth and healthy looking skin. What we would give to be young again but only if we could bring along the wisdom that we have now, a product of many experiences, decisions, and choices in life. Many of my peers groan about our economy and about the continual injustices in our world, in our nation and in our town. We may still be searching spiritually, or we have come to a more peaceful place with our devotional lives, having integrated much along the way, and hopefully still with curiosity about what’s next. The Great Mystery is just that for some of us: a mystery to explore and wonder about, and we are not quite so fearful about the unknown as we once were.
We call ourselves mentors now instead of students, we might like to see ourselves as old crones or wizards as we spout off our views, theories and ideas to the world and to younger folks in particular. I believe we can have deeper relationships with ourselves and with others at this stage of life. We can wade through conflict at least a little better than we used to, and we have more compassion perhaps than ever before.
We may no longer be seen as sexual beings by others, but we may feel and act more sexual and romantic than ever before, more comfortable with ourselves and our partners. But, in contrast, the world may see us as grandparents or elders rather than as nubile nymphs.
What do we do with all our smarts and somewhat integrated selves? Let me get more personal: what is my calling now, besides my profession which I both love and enjoy? What passion do I have for acting on my values and hopes about the transformation of humanity? Where will I put my energy in the coming years? Will I just flow along and let come what may, or will I go to the other extreme and get obsessive about planning, setting goals, mapping out my wished-for future?
What do you do, what do you plan, what do you hope for as you watch your children grow up and have families of their own? What are your interests and joys while you watch your parents age and die, or while you grieve their passing away from this physical realm? How long will we need to work for pay, and will retirement ever really be an option when it used to be the norm?
Back to our physical bodies. How do we make peace with our bodies, our faces, our hands and all those parts that show the gravity of our situation, the lower amount of energy, the settling in our bones? Do we cut our bodies up, stretch and pull our skin like straightening out a wrinkled carpet, or do we honor these creases, these bags and sags, and watch movies featuring Judi Dench so that we can see that there is truly beauty in an old face that hasn’t been filled in or botox-ed out?
My holiday wishes for you are:
I hope you will love yourself, your mind and your body as much as you can. Be gentle about the changes that are happening.
I hope you will know that numerical age is not the same as the age we feel, and sometimes you can be shocked by mirrors and photographs of yourself because you feel so much younger than you look. Maybe that is better than the alternative.
Use your wisdom and experience and help others who are younger or who struggle. We have a lot to teach and give to others at this age but we may want to wait until we are asked before offering our excellent advice.
Find some activity you enjoy and just do it. Stop working so hard, work smarter but not longer.
Relax more and enjoy yourself and others. No one else can do that for you. It is time to be self-centered (within limits) and do for yourself instead of only doing for others.
That’s enough. I wish you the best, no matter how old you are!