The Scourge of Old Age

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The scourge of youth is always looking forwards towards a bigger and brighter future rather than appreciating the present moment. The scourge of old age is always looking backwards towards a bigger and brighter past rather than appreciating the present moment.

So we see that the scourge of youth and the scourge of old age are one and the same: The lack of mindfulness.

If youth is about the almost fanatical desire to increase power old age is about seeing that power slowly but surely slip away, a diminution that of course ends in the absolute ceding of power that comes with death.

If you’re dealing with the scourge of old age, if you’ve begun to find yourself lost in nostalgia and painful feelings of loss, you’ve got to become determined to turn towards the present moment. There are two likely possibilities about your past. Either you, like many people, were always looking forward towards a brighter future at the expense of truly living in the moment or you really were fully present and happy back then.

If the first is true then it’s time to tell yourself that life is too short to miss out on really being there, being fully present for the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s never too late to become determined to stop looking backwards all the time, to instead engage with life as it is now. If the second is true then it’s time to remind yourself that if you were capable of being fully present and happy back then it means you’re capable of being fully present and happy now.

Yes, many of the old conditions for your happiness may have changed or disappeared but there are surely many conditions lying in wait right now, conditions you might not be fully aware of. Have the courage to open yourself up to them. Of course that means trading a sure thing, your memories of events that have already occurred and are therefore certain, for the unsure, anxiety inducing experience of opening yourself up to the spontaneous present, with all its unknowns and all its possibilities.

In old age there certainly is a reckoning with power, in all of its manifestations. But through it all you retain the power to turn towards your set of circumstances as you see fit. Forget about turning towards them with hope or despair. Instead just turn towards your circumstances with the firm intention to fully be there. Stop spending your time in the past, and take your power back to live a beautiful life with the time that’s left to you.

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