Thoughts About Aging

One day five years ago, while I cruised the Internet, I found a website that used certain information about the reader to predict their life expectancy. I answered all the questions and learned I can expect to live to the ripe old age of ninety-two-and-a-half.

That is twelve years from now, give or take a few days. Or one hundred-forty-five-and-a-half months, or six hundred and thirty-three weeks, or four thousand, three hundred and twenty-nine days. That’s a lot of opportunities!

I’m in excellent health, so there’s a good chance I will beat even those odds. That’s encouraging. I used to go to a Saturday morning Yoga class. There were a number of ninety-plus women in there, and they gave me a run for my money when it came to doing those exercises. That, too, made me feel optimistic.

I think “aging” is pretty much a matter of how you think and where and how you look. Until about two years ago, I thought of myself as a twenty-three year-old. Now, my initial, fleeting, thought is I am thirty-seven. My visual picture of myself, still, is the “girl” my first husband met when I was almost twenty-four. I get a big surprise when I look in the mirror. In truth, if I don’t look carefully right away when I look in a mirror, I do not see myself as I actually look now. It is as if I must clear away the young girl. I don’t think this is “foolish,” or “bad,” or “crazy.” I think it is one way I remain lively and energetic.

Another place to look is your calendar. If it is empty, so are you. Yes, you might “enrich” yourself by reading, even, perhaps, by watching television or doing puzzles but, if you do not truly interact with other people, that enrichment will become so much waste material.

Consider those people with whom you do interact. How old are they? Are they your age? Older? Younger? Why do you think you are attracted to them? For many years, now, I’ve had two distinct groups of friends. The members of one group, mostly women, are about five years older than I. These are the friends with whom I share both commiseration about the miseries of old age we all experience and fond memories of past decades, with a generous smattering of tales about grand- (and great-grand-) children. 

The second group, which for most of the past four decades has included more men than women, is made up of folks who are about fifteen years younger than I. We share interests in music, building things, science (with emphases on computers and aerospace), and books on many subjects, all written by exceptionally good authors. 

Last, but not least, my fourteen-year-old autistic great-nephew recently entered my life with persistence and a variety of interests to explore. He’s a keeper, too. Maybe he’s the harbinger of a new group of compatible souls? 

A good sense of humor is required, and characteristic, of all my friends.

Finally, look to the place where you find whatever it is that you know as spiritual connection. Some follow a proscribed system of beliefs and practices; others commune with nature; some claim no spirituality, but find communal spirit in the company of like-minded others. Whatever the form of connection, your relationship with it—the strength of your experience, the frequency of your conscious practice and, most important, the expression of it in your everyday life—becomes, in the final analysis, the ultimate summation of your entire life. It is how you will be remembered.

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