Friday, September 14, 2012

How we Grow (Old)

The women in my art group and I agree that the reason we grow wiser with age is that you get lots of learning opportunities.  You fall down and break something and get to experience disability and chronic pain.  Your vacation plans fall apart when a quietly ailing parent begins to refuse food. I think that whenever one of these moments arrives, you decide whether to be with the truth of it or to work harder to maintain your illusions about yourself. 

I think the best thing I've learned yet is to keep letting things go. You can think of meditation as practice in that:
inhale deeply
exhale, let it all go
rest at the bottom of the breath

But this is easy compared to the things you have to let go of in life practice.  Name one.  Okay.  Travel.  Uh-oh.  Should have gone to Paris when I could.  Definitely.

But losing that came later.  Earlier came - you know - losing youth.  Maybe not at 30, maybe it was at 40.  Women worry about losing our figure; men about losing hair.  But also a certain sense that you can roam, can change your whole life, do great things.  That there is lots of space, lots of time.
I was moving slowly with writing this when Tom came into my study with his phone, his sister on the phone, his father died at 6:00 this morning.  This is after months of slow, inevitable decline; we have been waiting, especially this last week, when he began refusing his medicines.  He was almost 93 years old.

Then it became clear to me what I wanted to say about old age.  We have a chance to learn that a great deal of life is not in our control.  Life is not us moving around, deciding our future; the world keeps moving big blocks around that affect us and change our lives. Sickness, our own, others.  The inevitable aging of every part of our bodies.  Death, sudden or slow, of people who matter to us.  And we cannot escape this. Time once more for The Five Remembrances, which are posted at the bottom of this blog.


  1. Condolences on losing your father in law. Life does keep teaching us about impermanence doesn't it? Thank you for sharing your thoughts. If you can't go to Paris, may Paris come to you in some way...

    1. I like that thought, Maggie. I am getting involved in creative dance and thinking about dressing for dance, which has a sense of novelty for someone who's always been classic. Something Parisian about it....