What’s it all been about?

***  Time for this post? Reading…4 minutes.  Viewing…20 minutes. Reflecting…as you wish.

It seems natural to me that our interests change as we move through the last years of life. I think of it like the arc of a story—there’s a welling up of action in the middle and then things sort themselves out and resolve for the finale.

Reflection. Assessment. Wondering what it’s all been about. These are on my mind… and I’ve been on the lookout for perspectives I can relate to. You may recall that I recently asked nonagenarian Nora Bitner for her view on the tasks of aging.

Here’s another perspective…

Lewis Richmond is a musician, retired teacher, and author of Aging as a Spiritual Practice: A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wisera book about how to find contentment and wisdom throughout the aging process.

In his video about aging, he discusses worthy goals such as generosity and givng back, gratitude, living an ethical life, recognizing that everything is connected, and kindness. He says, “Kindness is one of the gifts older people can bring to a society, because they’ve seen what happens when kindness disappears from the world. It’s not pretty.” His video spoke to me and I thought you might enjoy it too.

The explanation of meditation as it relates to aging was a revelation to me. When he said there are two functions of meditation, I had a light-bulb moment. Suddenly I understood why I don’t relate when meditation is promoted for its calming and relaxing benefits. I don’t need or want that. I prefer to sit quietly with my thoughts, tune in to my body, and gain perspective and insight.

As Lewis Richmond explains, what I’m engaged in is the other function of meditation—the ability to see what’s real. Not as I imagine it, not as society tells me it should be, but what it really is for me. What’s bothering me about my aging body? What am I afraid of? What unresolved emotions are lurking in the background? Quiet time gives me the space to explore these questions.

Reflection and contemplation help us make sense of our lives as we approach the finale. In our elderhood, we need space to reflect more than we need time to calm down.

Every breath, new chances.

“Attending to your inner thoughts” is one of the worthy goals Lewis Richmond identifies. This, for me, is one of my major tasks as I age. I want to allow unresolved questions and issues to surface, face them with kindly attention and care, and transform them so they’re no longer burdens and preoccupations.

I want to be free of encumbrances as I go into my last days. In my view, that will make it easier to make a graceful exit. Every day that I’m still here, I have new chances to lighten my load and get ready.

There’s so much else to unpack from Lewis Richmond’s presentation. What spoke to you?

Who should be in charge?

***  Time for this post?  Reading…a couple minutes.  Viewing…15 minutes. Changing your attitude…no time at all.

I started an exploration of fear of aging with Scilla Elworthy’s perspective. Today’s post is about a common fear that she didn’t mention—losing authority over our lives. It happens. More, and sooner, than it needs to in many cases.

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The Tasks of Aging

***  Time for this post? Reading…5 minutes. Considering…the rest of your life.

I’ve been wondering…if aging is a stage of human development, then what are our tasks as we move through this stage.

So I asked someone I knew would have ideas about this. Nora Bitner is a Therapist. Mother. Grandmother. Great-grandmother. Writer. Thinker. And did I mention that Nora is 90 years old? At the end of a message on another topic, she said… Continue reading

Why are we afraid of aging?

*** Time for this post? Reading…a couple minutes. Viewing…17 minutes. Coming to terms…who knows?

Why are we afraid of aging? I think the simple answer is that we’ve seen what happens to people around us and it usually isn’t pretty.  Getting old seems to involve a lot of pain and suffering. Who’d want to sign up for that?!

So we aim to avoid what they’re experiencing. And we can…for a while. But, with the exception of those who die a quick accidental death at a young age, we will all become frail, maybe ill, and then we’ll die.

What can we do?

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Being with someone with Alzheimer’s

*** Time for this post?  Reading…5 minutes. Viewing…11 minutes. Practising…until it becomes automatic.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about being with a person who is dying. Mostly it was about what to say and not say. The same questions arise when visiting, or living with, a person who has dementia. What to say? What not to say?

I’ve known two people who developed dementia. In the old days, we had such good conversations! When that was no longer possible, I stopped visiting. I wish I’d thought of researching how to be with someone in that state, instead of abandoning them.

Engaging with dementia…

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Ages & Stages

*** Time for this post? Reading…3 minutes.  Listening…5 minutes. Reflecting…as much as you want.

Being at the leading edge of the baby boom, I’ve arrived at the age where I’m considered old. I know this because cashiers now ask—without hesitation—if I qualify for the seniors’ discount!

So I’ve been thinking about aging, and paying attention to how it’s showing up in my daily life. I’ve noticed that I do less in a day. I’m not as strong as I was. But mostly, I care about different things than I used to.

Yet some things don’t change…

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