“I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.”
I had lunch yesterday with a community development specialist and as we discussed today’s challenges and opportunities we started to focus on the aging process. Both of us agreed that far too often older folks whither only because they don’t know what they can do, some even are so afraid of the unknown that they hide in their own little cocoon. I don’t think they turn their back on life by choice they just get bogged down and let life pass them by, what a waste that is. Through my Salvation Army volunteer activity and my participation on our cities premiere senior serving organization I have seen firsthand what amazing things older folks can do.
Like Mrs. Roosevelt said in the above quote “Life is meant to be lived,” and I know there are many like myself who find that these are the best years of their lives and know there is more enjoyable times to come. I love the fact that so many of my older friends have found that there is much they can do, an abundance of things to learn and best of all plenty of fun to be had. So if you think you have been cooped up too long come out and join those of us who live much of our lives enjoying folks that we might have missed if we hadn’t both decided to get out and live.
Here are some thoughts that I extracted from an article on the Heart of Healing web offering at http://heartofhealing.net/relaxation-wellness/aging-gracefully/
Aging Well in the Culture of Youth
To age “gracefully” in a culture which idolizes youth requires inner strength and wisdom. There are lots of role models who have led the way for us. Did you know, for example, that:
Martha Graham danced professionally until she was 76?
Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals at the age of 78?
Georgia O’Keefe continued painting well into her 90s?
Vitality in “later life” is not just for the famous. Undoubtedly everyone knows at least one person who is living a vital, fulfilling life “despite” their age. This is really the way it should be – life should become better as we age.
What I’ve discovered is that there are two “basic requirements” of graceful aging. To borrow from the “Serenity Prayer”, graceful aging requires the “serenity to accept the things we cannot change; courage to change the things we can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
The two major requirements of successful aging – accepting the aging process and not accepting what we can change — may at first seem contradictory. Sometimes success in life involves the ability embrace the paradox that when we accept life at it is at the moment, it paradoxically opens a doorway for positive change.
It’s been discovered that attitude has an enormous role in how we age. Much of the decline that people experience with aging comes about due to the belief that decline in function and quality of life is part and parcel of aging. It’s never too late to change the two most important ingredients to graceful aging – attitude and lifestyle.
Graceful aging means finding a balance between acceptance of the inevitability of aging and doing what we can to remain vital and healthy as long as possible. Acceptance involves relaxation into life and the ability to flow with change. When we are relaxed, we stop fighting the inevitable. At the same time, relaxation is a key to better health and greater vitality.
“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
Did you ever wonder why:
We’ll spend half a day looking for vitamin pills to make us live longer, then drive 90 miles an hour on slick pavement to make up for lost time.
We gripe like hell about politicians and the state of the government at all levels, yet over half of us don’t bother to vote.
We have a growth rate of over 80 % in lawyers, paralegals and legal secretaries and a 130 % decrease in farmers, assembly line workers and doctors.
Temper is what gets most of us into trouble. Pride is what keeps us there.
The social studies teacher had just finished a unit on war and peace. “How many of you,” he asked, “would say you’re opposed to war?” Not surprisingly, all hands went up. The teacher asked, “who’ll give us the reason for being opposed to war?” A large, bored-looking boy in the back of the room raised his hand. “Johnny?” The teacher said. “I hate war,” Johnny said, “because wars make history, and I hate history.”
Oh Lord give me patience… NOW!
During a practical exercise at a military police base, the instructor was giving the class instruction in unarmed self-defense. After he presented a number of different situations in which they might find themselves, he asked a student, “What steps would you take if someone were coming at you with a big, sharp knife?”
The student replied. “BIG ones.”
A narrow mind and a wide mouth usually go together.
A young Irish boy seems to be out looking for trouble one Saturday afternoon. Going down the street, he trips people, throws bricks through windows, smacks folks on the top of the head and whatnot until a passing cop stops him.
“What’s going on here?” the officer asks.
“It’s like this, officer,” the young man says. “I am on my way over to the church to go to confession, and I’m a little short of material.”
Necessity: Almost any luxury you see in the home of a neighbor.
When Pastor Ovall picked up the phone, Special Agent Struzik from the IRS was on the line.
“Hello, Pastor Ovall?”
“Yes, this is.”
“I’m calling to inquire about a member of your congregation, a Dr. Shipe. Do you recognize the name?”
“Yes, he is a member of our congregation. How can I be of service?”
“Well, on last year’s tax return, the doctor claimed that he made a sizable tax-deductable contribution to your church? Is it true?”
“Well, I’ll have to have my bookkeeper verify this information for you. How much did Dr. Shipe say he contributed?”
“Twenty five thousand dollars,” answered Agent Struzik. “Can you tell me if that’s true?”
There is a long pause. “I’ll tell you what,” replied Pastor Ovall, “Call back tomorrow. I’m sure it will be.”
“To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent–that is to triumph over old age.”
Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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