This is the second post in my Growing Older series. Sharing the gifts of wisdom others have shared with me over the years. Gifts that I hoped will shine the light on my fears, open my eyes to the truths, and allow the beauty of sage wisdom temper my reluctance to age gracefully.

I had fully intended to start out writing about someone older than me who has given me priceless sage wisdom. Wisdom about aging. Wisdom about strength and courage. To share the precious gifts they gave me. But that isn’t a beginning. And for me to better understand the journey and the end, I must start at the beginning. Which brings me to…..

farm, baby goatMy Niece Truen

Truen is just in the start of her life. A teenager whose position in life I envy right now – a lifetime ahead of her. Life changes day to day and time does not move fast enough for someone her age. She views life as being stuck at home in some kind of limbo land until she turns old enough to leave. Stuck living by someone else’s rules. Stuck having to do things she doesn’t want to. Stuck. Her independent spirit is just beginning starting to sprout it’s wings. And she’s stuck. I know the feeling – I was once that teenager.

But having lived that stage in my life then gone on to bigger and better things, I see that point of time in a much different light. As well I also have the adult wisdom and freedom to remove myself from “stuck” situations. I miss the carefree days of being a kid living at home. Sure there were rules, but I didn’t worry about food, heat, electricity, a room of my own, or outdoor places to explore. It was all at my fingertips. I didn’t worry about making mortgage payments or paying the insurance bill so I could go to the doctor. My waking world was caught up in friends, making plans for the weekend, playing with my siblings, and exploring interests – not in the “business” of living. The only worries I had were those of a kid, which now seem so trivial in the bigger scheme of life.

So Truen has helped me realize these things:

  • No matter where you are in life, there are both good and not-so-good things about that time. It is only human nature to pine over a different time and wish that you were there. But it takes wisdom to understand that all you really have is now. Best to live in the present and appreciate life as it is now – both the good and not-so-good. When one is able to stay in the present, time disappears. (Now how Eckhart Tolle is that?)
  •  Life is not a timeline, but a collection of life events. Like when someone asks you about an event, and you run through all other events in an effort to categorize it. An example: “When did Bob and Abby get married?” “Oh, well it was 5 years after his dad died and a year before we moved into the house on Main. ’85 I think. The same year as the blizzard that shut down town for 3 days.”  See what I mean? Life events, not time. Having Truen in my life makes me want to be around as long as possible to see her life events, regardless of how old I may be.
  •  As I grow older I appreciate the lessons of my elders, but I also recognize the lessons of those following behind me. I try to lead when I can, but often I must step aside and let them wander ahead on their own. Sometimes there is joy. Sometimes there is pain. But by golly they can certainly teach me a thing or two if I just allow them to. Now I understand why my elders would get that certain look in their eyes when looking at a younger me. My goodness – I’ve become my Grandmother.
  • No matter how old you are, you can still dance and shake your booty. Even if it’s to embarrass your nieces.

Aging is a progression, a progression of life events. On the front side we experience the wondrous expectations of life, the promise of a limitless uncertain future, the excitement of new relationships and births, and face the first losses that death deals us. But as we walk further ahead, we turn to see the back side where we begin to fade physically and mentally, recognize the transfer of youth and expectation to our children and their children, we experience our lives through the life events of others, and death begins to loom as a constant reminder of our mortality. Perhaps to find that aging grace in our lives is to approach life each day by embracing all that life is in that moment, realizing that the present moment is all we truly have at any one time. And that is all we need. We can’t go back. We can’t go forward. We are only here now.

Is it really that simple?