EVER WONDER WHY I CREATED A COLUMN CALLED GROW OLD WITH ME?
Our culture is always telling us how to look, feel and be “younger.”
I hate to tell you; but eventually we ALL grow older; so why not learn to enjoy the journey?
Why do we always have to be trying to be young when we have reached the place of being older?
I’m very convinced that there are some wonderful things about being “older” and those are the things I would like to share with you here. There are even a few others out there that would even tend to agree with me on these points; believe it or not!
WE COULD BE ENTERING THE RICHEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES
I firmly believe the “Golden Years” should have the potential to become the richest years of your life.
For one thing; most of us are through with all the trial and error thinking. Finally; we pretty much KNOW who we are; how we think and what we enjoy. That alone is something worth celebrating! Just think of all the years we have wasted and the mistakes we have made with trying to arrive right here. Now we know.
Knowing is a good thing.
IT IS ALL ABOUT PRACTICING WHAT YOU KNOW
But maybe you have been listening to the world a little too long, and maybe you have forgotten to stop and realize that you actually KNOW who you are better than anyone else.
I would encourage you to stop for just a moment and answer the following questions. It will only take a moment. Please write your answers down on paper because we may need to refer to them from time to time again as we ponder this magical age called “older.”
QUESTIONS FOR HONESTLY PONDERING THE ART OF GROWING OLDER
If you had to do one thing only for the rest of your life; what would it be?
If you had to spend time with ONLY three people for the rest of your life; what three persons would you choose?
Is there any one thing that makes you happy; no matter when, or how, or what? What is that ONE thing?
Is there one place on earth you love more than any other place? What is it about that place that makes it so special to you?
What is your favorite book?
What is your favorite song?
What is your favorite food?
How have the things you love changed over the years?
Is there a time in your life; looking back; that seemed more magical, more together, more joyful? What made that so?
If you had to live your life all over again; what part of it would you want to experience again?
What part would you take out and never return to?
Looking back over time; who has made you feel loved?
Who has made you miserable no matter what you tried to do to get along?
At this point in time; what part of the definition of “relationship” really matters to you?
What type of company do you desire the most?
Are you happy spending time alone?
Are you happiest alone or with others?
If you could experience ANY adventure you wanted; what would it be?
Are there things you always wanted to do that you haven’t crossed off the bucket list yet?
If you could pick a career all over again knowing what you know now; what career would you make your life’s work?
Are you surviving or thriving?
Are you living with intentionality or just existing?
ACCEPTING “OLDER” AS A GOOD THING
You can’t answer a single question here unless you fall into the category that people call “older.”
I laugh every time I watch “Fried Green Tomatoes” and the main character (played so beautifully by Kathy Bates) turns into an imaginary woman named Tawanda. She has to deal with some smart-mouthed teenage girls who make fun of her age and very rudely steal her parking space at the grocery store. At the end of the scene Tawanda gets her revenge by ramming her car into theirs three times while shouting her name and then driving off. The enraged girls come running out of the store all upset. They are astonished to face someone who has just given them a taste of their own medicine and they are in total disbelief. This Tawanda character whirls out of the parking lot leaving them crying in the distance after rolling down her window and throwing out that famous quote: “Face it girls I’m older and I have more insurance.”
I love that part!
OLD AGE HAS ITS ADVANTAGES
That movie scene always makes me smile. There are milder ways of proving the fact, but it is true, sometimes old age has its advantages.
I hope thinking through some of these questions gives you more insight to the fact that at this point in life; you really do KNOW who you are; and I also hope that this KNOWING translates into BEING in some way.
QUIT LISTENING THE THE VOICES OF THE WORLD AND INSIST ON LISTENING TO YOUR OWN HEARTBEAT
Most of us DO KNOW who we are by the time we reach the age of 50 or 60; but most of us accidentally make the mistake of failing to live intentionally into what we know. about our true selves We listen to all those voices out there that don’t really know us which are telling us how they think we should be living. Guess what? They don’t know us at all!
IT IS TIME TO SAY ENOUGH
It is time to say “ENOUGH” to the voices of the world that are trying to convince you that the quality of life is gone. Go ahead and wear that purple dress you like. Throw the black dress in the give-away box because it probably belongs to someone else. Old age is definitely a time to BE who you really are.
REMEMBER THE JOY IS IN THE JOURNEY AND YOU ARE STILL TRAVELING
I have a new canvas painting that I have placed over the edge of a stairwell in my home. I take those stairs about a million times a day as I move from the upstairs in the house to the downstairs. Every time I start to step down I see those special words painted against a cheerful picture of a pretty bicycle with a basket full of flowers leaned against a wall in a quaint little village. The words say “The joy is in the journey.”
I used to think this saying was true for someone in their 30’s or 40’s and that it was mostly about discovering new things, but now I think it relates more to someone older than that who has learned how to be living life the way it should be lived. It is as much about enjoying what you know and love as it is about continuing to learn new things along the way.
THE SECRET OF TRUE JOY IS IN KNOWING YOURSELF
You have to be old enough to REALLY know yourself to experience true joy. You have to be old enough to sort out the superficial things and sift down to those things that really matter.
For most of us that isn’t about where we live, or what we wear, or how we look in what we are wearing; but it is about “being” as we are doing things that are worthwhile with people that we truly love in a place where people understand real hospitality.
CROSSING OVER SURVIVING AND ENTERING THE PLACE OF THRIVING
This type of “reality” is soothing to an aching body. It is forgiving (and even honoring) to one that has a few wrinkles around their eyes, and it is relaxing and nurturing to those that have survived a few more hard times than they might wish to talk about. The joy comes when you cross over from that place of “surviving” to the place of “thriving.”
Easy for me to say; right?
Not really…….but I’ve had a few friends along the way that have helped me to develop this attitude.
COUNT ON THOSE OLD FRIENDS TO BE THERE
Being a writer; most of my friends have been introduced to me in the form of novels and I have slowly absorbed their good advice. The thing about making friends this way is that you can come back to the same subjects over and over again and see different perspectives that you didn’t see the last time.
Friends that are found within the pages of books never seem to mind repeating themselves; unlike a lot of human beings that I know. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have real flesh and blood relationships; not at all; but if you will take the time to make friends with the wisdom of written words you will find those flesh and blood relationships become more interesting.
It is a bit like sailing. The solid foundation of the boat is your actual flesh and blood relationships; they carry you through life and make life safer, more “doable” and easier to navigate. They provide a place to lay your head and a place to shelter you. The wisdom from truly good books is like the sail to the boat. They offer more guidance, catch the right winds and help to carry you further along on your journey.
I’ve enjoyed many good books like this in my life as I’ve begun this journey into old age; but a few stand out as some of the best.
THE BOOKS THAT HAVE HELPED ME TO ENJOY GROWING OLDER
The first and most important is the Holy Scriptures written down in the Bible. If you truly want to get encouraged; look at the people in the bible and what they did in their lives.
Most of these older biblical characters had extremely important, world-changing missions and they usually didn’t even start on their adventures through the missions until they were well over forty. Many of them had very fulfilling missions given directly from God even after they reached 80 years of age!
Look for those people. Study how they thought about life. Ponder what it was that was different about them. I dare you.
A BOOK THAT PROVIDES INSIGHT INTO DAILY ABUNDANCE
Another book that has inspired me tremendously is a book many may have forgotten by now. It was published back in the early 90’s and used mostly as a type of “coffee-table” book by most folks.
The articles are simple themes about daily life; but they are beautiful and full of wisdom. The book is called “Simple Abundance – A Daybook of Comfort and Joy” by Sarah Ban Breathnach. This book explains a lot about what the experiences of getting older should actually be for everyone.
Simple abundance says it all.
You don’t have to have a fortune and you don’t have to live in a mansion and wear designer clothes and eat at expensive restaurants in order to enjoy a type of “simple abundance.” Unlike many today may be thinking; getting older isn’t necessarily about traveling to every tiny part of the globe.
Mostly you simply need to know the answers to all the questions I asked you earlier. You need to know yourself; what makes you tick, what makes you happy, and what you consider worthwhile after all your years of living life through trial and error.
Old age is about having the answers!
IT IS A RELIEF TO BE IN SUCH A PLACE
This is a GOOD thing; this place of finally having the answers to the questions that everyone else is still out there running around in circles trying to find. You know who you are and you know what truly matters because you have experienced enough by now to have your own particular set of answers. This is the beginning of peace.
SHARING THE PEACE OF MIND
This is a peace of mind that you can extend out to others. This “peace” and this “knowing” could truly change the world if it is funneled into all the right channels. That is part of why I write about growing older. That is what I want everyone to see and enjoy and discover for themselves.
The world is a much better place because of the existence of “older people.” Let’s quit trying to change them; let’s begin to let all their wonderful years of life experience teach us more about peace and harmony and TRUE life.
BY NOW WE CAN UNDERSTAND THE MEANING OF TRUE HOSPITALITY
Another book that I think has contributed to this very same line of thinking is a book called “The Turquoise Table.”
“The Turquoise Table” is a simple, but eloquent book that expresses the secret KNOWINGS of a life well-lived. The author, Kristin Schell, spends her pages talking about finding community and connection in your own front yard.
Kristin Schell started practicing this simple act by doing a very simple thing – sitting at a turquoise picnic table she placed in her front yard.
Now there is a whole movement formed around this simple act of hospitality and these people sharing true hospitality across the land are becoming known as “the front-yard people.”
THIS IS WHAT GETTING OLDER IS ALL ABOUT
I read through most of her book with delight, and I thought to myself the whole time; “this is what getting older is all about – this knowing how to share hospitality with presence.” . I came to a chapter toward the end of this book and the title of that chapter jumped right off the page at me. It was titled “A Table For All Seasons.”
Well, if you read this blog often you will know that I’ve been writing for years and years now about the changing “seasons” of life and a very active part of my writing has involved things of the table and the act of making a house a home.
OLD AGE INVOLVES KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOSPITALITY AND ENTERTAINMENT
You know I quickly resonated with every word that Kristin had to say; and I attribute a lot of that to the fact that I’ve reached an age of “knowing.” This age is a time of being able to distinguish the difference between hospitality and entertainment.
Kristin says “true hospitality provides presence; not entertainment.” I couldn’t agree more and I think that is one of the greatest gifts that older people have to offer to their community. They bring a sense of knowing how to slow down and be present, and this is a rare gift indeed; a much-needed gift.
OFFERING THE GIFT OF PRESENCE
So I’m finding old age of KNOWING and living amongst wonderful friends to be delightful.
I love mastering “being” over “doing” these days.
I love slowing down and sitting still enough to savor the community around me and sharing whatever talents God gave me with those who matter the most.
It is a process still and I am always learning how to improve the process.
At this point of “growing older” I am truly beginning to appreciate the joy in the journey; more than ever before.
Every journey is better when it is shared. I would love for you to come along and go with me. There are many things in this word that we could re-explore together now that we KNOW what we KNOW.
Let’s go check this out!
Come along and GROW OLD WITH ME!