The blessing of life now lies in the realisation that life is not over but beginning again in a whole new way.Sister Joan Chittister
Ageing doesn’t have to be a great disappearing act. Ageing can be a great discovery act. The discovery of wisdom, the discovery of freedom, the discovery of the world, the discovery of the meaning of life.
Who knows if this is the last year, last month, last day of our lives? Why not live as if it’s the last and make the most of it whatever decade of life, we’re in?
Getting older doesn’t mean giving up and not having the opportunity to contribute to the world. Life isn’t over until it’s over and, if you’ve begun to doubt that you have any meaningful role to play in the world, then think again.
Getting older has many blessings. Here are ten of them:
Midlife is not a crisis. Midlife is an unravelling.Brené Brown.
This is where we actually start to work our lives out. This is where we hopefully realise who we are and then we can figure out what we should do with that. My unravelling began a few years ago and what came out of it was a realisation that life can be simpler and more clear cut.
I don’t have time to play around. I need to write and teach. That’s it. That’s my later-in-life mission. Now, I’m free to give in to my creativity and go with it. It’s not a job, it’s a mission and the freedom of that makes creativity a joy.
Getting older is a privilege. What we lose in wrinkles, in the shutting down of certain areas of our lives, is an opportunity to live a different life. Instead of worrying what people think of us or trying to impress, a certain level of freedom is gifted to us.
To be who we are and do what we need to do, without a lot of the constraint from ego or expectations is freeing. We can become open to the new without fear or constraint.
3. Acceptance of Who We Are
Free from the restraints of having to prove yourself, you are free to just be.Richard Rohr
Accepting who we are, even with wrinkles and floppy bits, comes with age. We can rage against the physical restraints of an ageing body, but acceptance of ourselves brings peace and purpose to our lives.
Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life – it has given me me. It has provided time and experience and failures and triumphs and time-tested friends who have helped me step into the shape that was waiting for me. I fit into me now.Anne Lamott
Richard Rohr writes about finding the spiritual treasures of ageing. Spiritually, I’ve never been more confused. I’m too liberal and too conservative in too many ways for things to have become clear.
However, in my questioning and seeking, I’m finding now that the really important questions revolve around love, grace, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, and generosity rather than what is right or wrong.
It’s actually become simpler to be spiritual rather than religious. Perspective gives me permission to look at spirituality from a much wider perspective. In fact, not just spirituality but everything.
So get ready for some new freedom, some dangerous permission, some hope from nowhere, some unexpected happiness, some stumbling stones, some radical grace, and some new and pressing responsibility for yourself and for our suffering world.Richard Rohr
Freedom to take risks is something I’ve learned on this journey. Once our children became adults, we began taking more risks, travelling more, saying yes to scary things, and living with a sense of freedom we’d never had before.
6. Inner Strength
Life is about doing every age well, learning what we are meant to learn from it and giving to it what we are meant to give back to it.Sister Joan Chittister
If we look back at our lives, no matter how old we are, we can all say we’ve suffered, struggled, and survived. Maybe we’re a little battle-bruised and sore, but we have gained strength from the struggles we’ve faced. This inner strength perhaps balances out the decreased physical strength.(Although if you look at Ruth Bader Ginsberg, she was still doing PT in her 80’s while sitting on the US Supreme Court!)
Inner strength is a blessing as we grow older. I’m grateful I have the capacity I have now compared to ten, twenty, or thirty years ago.
7. Deepening Relationships
Elders have the luxury of attending to people now rather than to things. And out of that attention comes a new sense of being really important to the world.Sister Joan Chittister
People matter more than ever matter as we grow older. Our children, their children, our lifelong friends, our companions, all matter more than things. A growing sense of mortality brings a lessening of the importance of things. Spending time with people is something we can all do. Sharing our stories and wisdom and experience and learning from younger people are gifts.
Looking back over the decades of my life, each has seen some reinvention. From student to teacher, from single to married, from married without children to mother, from teacher to writer, from tied to home to travelling the world.
I’ve been married since 1985 and if we’d stayed the same without reinventing along the way, I don’t think we’d still be married. I often joke that I’ve had three husbands–a different one in each decade. He’d probably say he’s had three wives as well.
Now, we’re at another point of reinvention, brought on by the Pandemic of 2020. One of the great joys of getting older is being able to reinvent with increased freedom. There are older relatives to care for, possible grandchildren on the horizon, and responsibilities, however, we are really free to set the tone of the next decade. To reinvent once again.
My inside self does not have an age.Anne Lamott
Inside, I feel about 37. I’d quite like to stay there! My friend, Kate is 75 and she is ageless.
Last year, she did a pilgrimage walk across Scotland and visited me here in Australia from the USA. She has an insatiable curiosity about, and love for, life. She is ageless. Until she told me her age, I presumed she was at least a decade younger.
We turn not older with years but newer every day.Emily Dickinson.
I’ve decided to be ageless from now on!
10. Time Consciousness
If you have more disposable time where you’re free from work or family responsibilities, it can open you up to new things. You might have time to volunteer, learn a new language, travel more, write more, paint more. But ageing also makes us more time conscious. We know time passes quickly and we get a sense of urgency.
When there’s potentially more behind you than in front of you, it gives you a sense of needing to make more of the time you have.
And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.(attributed to Abraham Lincoln)
This is such a great reflection of aging well. And you live this truly. Thankyou for your wisdom.
Some great thoughts, Elaine. I’m certainly enjoying the freedom to be more creative at this stage of my life. And I think all the life experiences I’ve had to this point help in my writing. It’s all about perspective. Thanks for a refreshing post.
Thanks for your comment, Nola. There is a lot to be grateful for. ❤️
Love this Elaine! So very true. I especially relate to re invention after turning 60 last year, going back to study after 42 years and starting a new career following that study.
It is a new season for me and the next chapter God has for me, rather than allowing my “age” to define me.
Thank you for re-iterating that in your article 💜
This is truely wonderful Elaine. Thank you so much for your deep wisdom. I love this article. 🙏🏻❤️