I stumbled upon a greeting card that struck me with its simplicity. Like poetry, the message conveyed varies with the lens adorned by the reader. For me, it speaks to what it is that I like about aging.
Since my father-in-law’s decline and passing, I have been mindful of the subject of senescence. Mind to action has resulted in updating wills, addressing overdue house repairs, and passing along in-case-something-happens information to adult children. The oddity is that although these thoughts and actions may seem depressing, they’re actually somewhat comforting. It’s the natural cycle of life that manifests into de-cluttering, clearing the path for things more important.
Growing up is complicated. From the time we are born, we are in combat in some form. Babies are dependent on caregivers; toddlers strive to gain control; adolescents struggle to fit in; teenagers battle peer pressure; college students fight to balance school and social life; grown adults wage warfare on health issues, relationships and finances; and seniors are dependent on caregivers. Somewhere along this continuum dawns the realization that simple is better.
Aging brings more respect for the pleasures in the present, and less remorse over the past or ambition for the future. Aging is awareness of the value of cherished moments, stories, memories and self-forgiveness. Yes, there are fears of declining health, wealth and independence, and these fears are not easy to face. But with these fears come a clarity of priorities. Tough decisions need to be made and knowing what is most important helps. As Atul Gawande says in Being Mortal, “Living is a kind of skill. The calm and wisdom of old age are achieved over time.”
Aging is not easy, but it is natural and it is simple.