“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” ~ Mark Twain
One day, we wake up…and we are 65 years old. It will happen to you—if it hasn’t already. You will wonder where the years went. You can still look back at being young, but you may not really be able to explain how you got here.
Suddenly, we see that we have become what we once considered old in others. But for the most part we don’t feel old, or wise. It’s a little claustrophobic, because we can’t get younger anymore. Not that we all necessarily want to be young again…but it seems like there should have been some markers along the road, letting us know this was happening.
Desires are mollified, as we consider all the trades that we have made. The good ones, the terrible ones and mostly the ones that appeared so important at the moment, but obviously don’t matter now. We are ready for a different kind of life, a different kind of company, a different kind of us.
But there is a levelheaded version of us here too, thankful for everything. Pleased with each moment, taking the sunrise, a breath and each thought as a blessing. “Here I am always” we say. “Have your way with me,” we used to say that to a lover. Now we say it to the sun, moon and stars, we say it to the old ones gone before us—we feel within us a sparkling transition to finally being old enough, free enough, to do whatever we want without apology.
The percussive nature of youth has gone, and left us with a fuller smile. All of our calculations, about what we have done, what we are doing, and what we will do include both more variables and constants than we ever imagined possible. We have earned this age—we have earned our own company.
We know that life ends. And we also know that what we do matters, not in the way we thought it did, but simply because we say it does. Nothing is as important as everything used to be, which opens the door to freedom. But we still have to walk through, and to do that we have to be our age.
Others seem more distant, in that their opinions don’t really matter anymore. And they seem closer too, because they are in the boat with us, never far away, looking back at us, our mirror. Differences aren’t vast anymore, and being right steps back into the choir and simply being here takes center stage.
We wake up in the morning, and write something like this, a missive to the younger ones, and an invitation to the ones our age. To so many people it matters what day of the week it is, but to us, the ones of a certain age, it’s now.
The time we spent busy was a near-life experience. The time we spent doing nothing, cuddling or satisfied is life itself. And now death offers new perspectives, previews of what is to come: making what is here all the dearer.
How we spend our time matters, not what we get done. It is too late for the IRS to scare us or to buy stuff to distract us. What goes into our mouths too soon shows up on our bodies. And what comes out of our mouths creates an echo that reminds us that we are alive for something. Spending time with people we love is time well spent. And loving whomever we are with becomes not just possible but necessary. Buying stuff is ridiculous, owning things unthinkable—the accumulation phase is over.
The road to getting smarter isn’t about collecting more knowledge or data, but letting go of all we know.
Consequences are immediate, karma a close friend, and this is it. We are left with the fullness of now letting others carry the burden of youth. Been that, done there. Most moments the company we keep is our own, learning to live with ourselves before we are done living. Deadlines are just that.
We used to measure a day in what we got done and arguments won. Now, it is obvious that the doing was a distraction and the argument a loss simply because we were arguing. We drop our dukes, disinterested in fighting or making the next pointless point. In this distraction free zone we are free. Time spent giggling now is time well spent. A day is finally just long enough, because how long it is, is up to to us.
We have arrived at our own door step. We knock tentatively, and we open the door. We invite ourselves in; the company is good, the moments full and sensations ideal.
Link to audio file download of this blog: Free at last, why getting older is getting better.
Author: Jerry Stocking
Image: Ian MacKenzie
Editors: Travis May; Julie Balsiger