Suddenly there is a chill in the air and we wonder how the season passed so quickly. We often look at a new season as a time of change and an opportunity to look ahead. This year, amid the confluence of seasonal changes and the observance of my own religious holiday, I find myself reflecting in a different way. My body is signaling to me that I am not the same physical person I was last year. The occasional stiff joints are speaking louder to me now and I wonder how did I get here, to age 76? Where did the passing of time go, what was the quality of my life, how do I move into my future years, and how do I embrace Aging Gracefully?
When do we stop and reflect upon our own life?
Mother nature sends us subtle cues as to when to pause, and now is a pivotal time of year for reflection. Many people, including myself, are celebrating the Jewish High Holy Days – beginning with the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah and culminating with the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The ten days between these two observances are spent contemplating the year that has passed, the kind of person we were and the good deeds we performed and we repent for any wrong doings during the previous year. We begin the days of worship wearing light coats and wraps, and if we’re lucky the sun comes out when we take a break from prayer and we can leave our sweaters inside, to be worn again at sunset when we leave. The shift in temperature is a reminder that this is also harvest time. Harvest festivals can be found throughout the world as communal celebrations of the reaping of planted seeds, the beauty of growth and the preparation for the winter dormancy.
To Look Forward, do we Need to Look Back?
Our numerical age is immaterial because, although we often measure the passage of time by events (children starting school, graduation, marriages, grandchildren, promotions, operations, friends passing, etc), the process of reflection can come upon us at any given time. So how do we examine where we are in life? Should I reread Gail Sheehy’s poignant, thought provoking book “Passages” to help me in this process? At what point do we stop to take in the small things that bring us pleasure? Is there a way to be ageless at any age and be at peace? As I start thinking about these issues, it appears the universe is responding by revealing articles and books all related to this topic.
Can we Change our Attitude about Aging?
What do we know personally about aging? We may look at our friends who are into healthy eating and exercise and wonder if it will really make a difference. If now in our 40’s and feeling really good, can we imagine what it will be like to be 70 or 80? Is there much difference between 50 and 60? What if we were women in another culture, say France or the Far East, is aging gracefully measured differently? Can we learn about ourselves and our own aging process through poetry, ancient wisdom or the emerging perspective of baby boomers? Many of us are looking at these issues, there is much to delve into and learn from.
Appreciation of Life
Feminist Betty Friedan wisely said, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
Over the next few months, we will take a look at actions we can take to fully appreciate life. If life is a process, can we live all the stages of life in a meaningful and fulfilling way? Have you?
This series will address these thoughts and questions. We would love to hear your ideas about aging gracefully; what issues you would like addressed and who you would like to hear from. Or perhaps you would like to share your point of view and contribute a blog or article. Contact us and together we will explore the many perspectives on aging gracefully.