Sometimes when I am seeking knowledge on one topic, I find myself learning so much more, than the subject I started researching. This is exactly what happened here.
” What you seek, is seeking you.” – Rumi
Many years back, I had become friends with a wonderful, older man and my family, kind of, adopted him. I was there during his last years of life. I helped him with his daily tasks, did his shopping, laundry and made sure he was eating. The hardest part was when he had to move into a nursing home. He lived by himself and had many falls. The hospital said we can’t keep taking him every time he falls. He needs more care than he is receiving. I moved his belongings to the home, photo’s, his comfy chair, TV and some small items to make it feel, somewhat like home. It never did. We made sure he had a ground floor room, so he could grow flowers on his deck, (he was an avid gardener) he wasn’t interested. He was only there for 3 weeks before he died. It was one of the hardest things I have ever been a part of. The trauma of his moving, was more than he could take. I remember thinking then, that I didn’t want to have to go through that when I was older. I didn’t want to have to be forced to move somewhere. I wanted to make sure the decisions were my own; that the transition would surely be much easier if I had made my own choices. I decided that I wasn’t going to wait until my children were forced to make the decisions for me. That was many years ago and I was much younger. I had many years ahead of me before I had to plan for that.
Here we are, current day. My parents are aging and as I watch them go through, what I can only imagine, this extremely difficult transition, I can’t help but be reminded of my dear old friend and my thoughts on the matter, way back when. These thoughts have occupied a big part of my thoughts lately. As much as it is heartbreaking and sad, it is an inevitable part of life as we know it, in this current reality. It will happen to all of us. So here I am again, wondering how I could make this process easier on myself as I age. It dawned on me, if I am going to try to make my transition through this phase of life easier, then I better start changing my thought process now. If I enter the last phase of my life with the same thoughts on how to do things that I have now, I will go through the same traumatic struggles as so many people before me. How to do that, is the question.
I started to read many articles on aging and change. Then I came across this site called Always Well Within. You should check it out. It is really good. I read this first. http://alwayswellwithin.com/2015/02/22/aging-grace-myth-reality/ It is a really good article and it made me really think about a few things, but I still wasn’t satisfied; I kept reading. Then I found this one http://alwayswellwithin.com/2014/04/27/extraordinary-life/. A light bulb went off and between the two articles, I realized, I am always striving for better, or different or something that is not yet here. If I am going to transition into the aging process with ease and “grace” I need to start accepting what is, now or I will never be able to accept it then.
My whole life, even when I had youth on my side and a fabulous body, I thought I had a weight problem. I was never thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough and the list goes on. I mean, I knew I was not ugly or stupid, I just always felt like everyone else knew more, or had better hair, better clothes or whatever it may be.I was always striving for this “perfection,” which we all know, will never come. The image of perfection, lies in my mind and only I can change things up there. The aging process is happening now, as we speak. I will get older, my skin will continue to sag, my face will get more and more wrinkles. No matter how much I push against this reality; it will not stop the process. That is where the light bulb went on.
This whole time, I have chased an unrealistic vision. Even now, in the last few years, I have started over with nothing, after a divorce and I stress about not owning a house, not having the sorts of things that a woman my age “should” have acquired. All of my friends have them. This has really wreaked havoc with my mental state. After reading through this website, it all felt so clear to me. My body has a few extra pounds, but it is not too bad, my face is not the most beautiful, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say, I may not own a house or have a large savings account, but I live in a lovely home in the most beautiful place on earth and we get by with the money we make. I have an amazing man, who loves me for who I am and is always telling me I am beautiful and to stop judging myself so harshly. He loves me, wrinkles, saggy bits and all, and I realized I am the happiest I have ever been. If I just stop chasing all the “things” I don’t have and sit back and enjoy the things I do have, life would be so much more enjoyable. My body is not perfect, but it is healthy and strong, I don’t own the house that I live in, but it is my home, my face has some wrinkles, but it shows my joy and life experiences. I have visualized this “Extraordinary Life” sometime in my future. Once I acquire all of these things, my vision would become my reality and my life would be amazing. What I didn’t see is, my life is already extraordinary.
What I got out of reading those articles, is live in the present, accept it for what it is. Stop wishing it was different or stop competing with others. I am not saying stop growing and changing, I am saying, enjoy this moment in time, instead of letting it pass by, while wishing for something else. If this is my way of thinking now, then it will be my way of thinking when I am in the last stages of my life. Each section of our life will teach us something and bring new awareness. My hope is that I can allow myself to be in the moment enough to feel the new awareness and appreciate it enough to learn the lessons it will bring. I will strive for this way of thinking, starting today, I will change the dialog in my head and accept what is the inevitable of this life. I can not stop the aging process, I know this; I only wish to ease the process so it is not so hard.
I don’t know if I figured out a way to make the aging transition easier. Maybe it is meant to be this way; part of the experience of living in this body. What I do know is, I learned more than I was seeking. In my journey of trying to learn about all of this, I have discovered something truly priceless. I love my life! I am surrounded by love at every turn. I am blessed with a huge family, I have an amazing man who I adore and he treats me like gold, I have three fantastic kids, who have hearts of gold and I have been blessed with two beautiful grandsons, who melt my heart daily. If I never own a house or lose those extra pounds, if I never travel the world, or have “enough” money, that’s OK, because my life is already extraordinary and for that I am eternally grateful. Anything, that I acquire from this point on, is just icing on the cake.