Getting older would not be quite as difficult on the psyche if it didn’t entail dealing with the inevitable changes that accompany the process. Not just changes to our bodies but also changes to the environmental conditions to which we have grown accustomed and enamored. When things change we are inevitably confronted with feelings of grief, although we don’t always face these feelings squarely, which is what keeps us from being able to move on and enjoy our new surroundings for what they are. Instead we stay stuck in the past, wishing for a time and place that is long gone and can never be recaptured.
One idea that may be helpful as you age is to consider the fact that however old you think you are, there is someone from a generation ahead of you quietly chuckling, maybe a little jealous of all the time you have in front of you. And there is someone a generation older than that person doing the exact same thing. I was sitting on a bus and overhead a conversation where a girl who was twenty years old was talking about her hesitancy to pursue a romantic relationship because the potential partner was only eighteen. “The age difference just wouldn’t work. I’m practically her mother!” It took a forceful effort on my part to not burst out laughing. But then again, I have spoken about the pangs of aging, leaving my 20’s behind and entering my 30’s, only to get gently ribbed by a few aunts who, from their perspective, rightfully consider me to be quite young.
Wherever we are in the timeline, once we start really thinking about aging and realize we are not immortal many of us tend to consider ourselves far advanced in years even though we really are not. We start worrying about the past and the future, definitely the antithesis of the mindful attitude and a guaranteed way to insure that our present will suck. The past is gone, as much as we might miss it, and the future marches towards us at its own steady cadence with or without our approval. The only satisfying solution is to make the conscious choice to get the very most we can out of the present, even if environmental conditions are now a little different than we have grown used to.
When you live mindfully you slow down the aging process because you are more involved in your life. Remember how long summers used to last when you were a kid? Time starts passing us by in a flash when we grow jaded and check out of the present, instead looking back on what we no longer have or looking forward to a future date. As William Wallace said in Braveheart, “Everyone dies, not everyone really lives.” Really living means investing yourself fully in your present as you age, accepting that conditions inside of you and outside of you will constantly be changing during your journey. But one thing that can be permanent is your commitment to live in the present and get the most you can out of every moment.