July 13, 2009

The Beauty Of Growing Older

An article and a picture from Father Tony got me thinking about the benefits of growing older. Most in that group of handsome men are close to my own age. No doubt they have a wealth of knowledge between them about many diverse subjects. More than that, they have wisdom that most often comes only with time.

Wisdom, if you choose to heed the outcome of knowledge, is the great payoff for aging. Knowledge and time are on a inverse continuum; one increases as the other decreases. You can beat the odds if you are willing to learn from others’ mistakes. It takes a lot longer if, like I did, you insist on making those mistakes on your own. Youth has all the time in the world to make use of its limited knowledge; age has great knowledge but limited time in which to apply it. It’s why we see people in midlife suddenly change their circumstances, jobs, etc., and re-establish their commitments to the core philosophies which may have lain dormant in the busyness of life.

It’s usually around age fifty that most people in Western civilization have a wake-up call and realize their mortality is looming on the visible horizon. (I have to wonder if the same is true in other societies that value the aged.) A midlife awakening need not be a crisis unless you make it one. And rather than bemoan the regrets, rejoice in what gift of days you have remaining, to use them wisely and with love.

It is evident in the picture that the men are enjoying the company of good friends who share their culture, their hopes, their experiences and their fears. Most have reached the age where foolishness falls away and the clarity of what is real and important is a jewel without price. Mistakes are an accepted part of life and easily forgiven. One great thing about growing older is that each mistake is statistically less significant; what’s one more in that ever-growing list?

You can reach that midlife awakening any time you wish. The sooner you choose to take control of your life and its outcome, the more time you will have to see its fulfillment. Take the knowledge and wisdom you have and find a purpose. What circumstances in your life right now are an arena for your influence? Share your wisdom and its resultant peace with as many as will hear. Some will not listen; they are not your audience. Be the change you wish to see in the world.


Greg said...

A midlife awakening. I like that. I guess that's what I had last year. And thank goodness.

It's nice to be standing on this side of all that turmoil with a big smile on my face. Thanks for these links, Birdie.

Oooh, and my word ver: "blesses"!!

Ur-spo said...

literally we must grow older with grace. without grace and wisdom growing older towards death is an ugly meaningless descent into nothing.

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Martha Graham got it when she was in her 70's. She said she suddenly sensed "an errand in the maze".

PS: One of the guys in that pic is in his 20s. I wonder what he was thinking. I didn't get much of an opportunity to speak much with him. Many fascinating stories in that room.

THIS IS ME....ONLINE said...

You're a woman of wise words! Thanks for sharing.

Rox said...

Thoughtful post as usual!

evilganome said...

A timely post for me, since at the age of 54 I am looking into going back to school and taking a much different direction with my work life, as it becomes more and more apparent that I will never be able to retire.

If I'm going to have to work forever, I'd like it to mean something to me.

Word verification is farat, which for some reason makes me think of old farat, or similar.

Bill said...

This was the perfect thing for me to read this evening. I just turned fifty a couple of weeks ago.
I'm happier now than I've ever been in my life. I changed jobs about a year ago, earn far less than I did previously, and look forward to going to work each day. I work for a non-profit, and help others every day. It is a job that is good for my soul, and the compensation cannot be counted in paper & coins.

A Lewis said...

Wow, a wake up call, to say the least. And, yes, I've had many of those thoughts on my mind as of late.

Jeaux said...

What wisdom I’ve managed to acquire, though precious little it seems and therefore all the more valued, has not come as a brilliant mid-life windfall. But more akin to picking up a key or two along the way, a perfect fit in the door for which it was made, which, once opened, seems inevitable and obvious.

I don’t think of myself as having “a gay life,” just a life, lived among other human beings. I’ve learned that living well for next to nothing is better than being rich. That my disappointment with myself is a kind of vanity. That confession is essential to my spiritual growth, and that absolution, spoken, received, and given, is new life. That my influence in the world is slight. That my parents were more impressive than I thought. Store brands are just as good. Network news is a crock. That sex is good, but a kiss is divine. That falling in love is wonderful.

I hope, and believe, I have acquired a few keys, and opened a few doors, as I became a man, and began to put away, some more easily than others, childish things.

tornwordo said...

I think I'm finally just realizing that life is not a race. Also the older I get the more I know, but the less I am sure of that knowledge.

Robert said...

Betty, I used to think that growing old can be graceful, if one wants it... but that's not always the case.