My head is not in the sand; I recognize the steady downward slide of the dumbbell weight and fewer number of reps during my occasional visits to the condo’s health club.
But I refuse to classify locker room vanity as a measure of who I am. Scrawny pectoral muscles are not indicative of a protracted slide into dotage.
To the contrary, by recognizing the changes as normal variants rather than measurements of loss, accepting the aging process can be the catalyst for living a life more fulfilling and joyous than when you were in your prime.
I stopped struggling to hold on to the traditional approach for determining self-esteem. In its place, I surrendered. I realized that giving in to the pressures of maintaining a lifestyle that no longer came easy to me kept me from living in a fashion more closely aligned to who I had become. My reflection in the mirror spoke to me, “I am leading my life by rote, following rules that no longer apply, playing a role I’ve become ill-suited for rather than listening to my inner self.”
I made a choice. I could conclude that my life was at the beginning of the end, or I could decide I was at the beginning of authoring many new chapters waiting to be written.
To those who seek my guidance as to how to live out the days that remain, I find myself explaining the one basic principle inherent to achieving personal happiness: true contentment is not a line item on one’s Balance Sheet; the path to happiness leads inward.
My advice is, accept the vicissitudes of aging; wave the white flag and let go of what was, and can no longer be. Go deeper, concede how ego drove you; it is surrender that allows us to make amends for the many compromises we made rooted in the vain ‘externals’ that govern society.
The process can be cathartic. Resentment, rage, sadness and frustration will be experienced. The feelings that come to the surface may damn near consume you but if we experience the awkward and potent emotions and endure the pain, extraordinary and spectacular relief will follow. Fresh air will cleanse the soul.
Now you can move forward. Now your reflection in the mirror declares, “I am not a victim of age. My future is not based on re-writing an idealized version of the past. I will live out my remaining years as a triumph.”
An opinion piece from the editors of the Senior News Daily. Read the daily paper at www.seniornewsdaily.com