Recently I was reading a book, The Gift of Years, Growing Older Gracefully by Joan Chittister. She talks about “meaning,” what are we when we are not what we used to be? Society has a tendency to measure us by what we do, how much, our roles or positions. So when we are not in a paying-job position, what happens to our self worth? In the aging process when we look at re-visioning our lives, we ask ourselves, what do others see in me now? What am I doing with my time? These are core questions that expose the depth of spirituality in us.
Along with changes in our lives — whether it is change of employment, facing an illness, retiring or just getting older — comes fear. Fear of the unknown of what lays ahead, new challenges, seeing a long life as a coming of a wasteland. We need to think about the beauties of age, its freedom and its splendor. The major task of life in this period may simply be not to fear the fear.
Finding joy in space and time. There is possibility now and the kind of accent on people, rather than projects, which we haven’t known for years. There is a sense of freshness in these years that speaks a foreign language to the heart. The challenge is to know how to use it. Knowing what to do with this new sense of time and space is what determines in the end just how happy, how fulfilling these years can be.
The slate is clean. The days are ours. The task now is to learn how to live again. We need to enjoy and celebrate new experiences and to recognize the beauty and affirmation they add to our lives. Think about the question, what we really want to do with life, rather than what we must do or should do or ought to do.
- We can simply sit and watch the sunset.
- We can walk across the lawn, smell the grass, and pick a dandelion.
- We can be happy at sixty-five or seventy or eighty.
- We can smile at everyone we meet, play with children and grandchildren.
- We can volunteer at some place calling our passion.
- We can determine to pursue something new today.
- We can decide to give ourselves to those who have no one else but us to count on for quality of life.
- We have a chance to be the best self we have ever been. And we have the chance to help others do the same.
The blessings of life experience through the years is that we are the ones whose responsibility it is to prove the stereotypes wrong, to give change and age its own fullness of life.