One of the things I am noticing as I enter what is euphemistically referred to as my Golden Years is that the nature of time seems to mellow and ripen. On one level, the days pass slower, like watching an Oklahoma ‘hawk makin’ lazy circles in the sky’. On the other hand, the days and years seem to have passed in a flash—that only yesterday I was starting a business and driving my kids to school. I guess it just underscores how elastic time can be and that it is all about how well we live and not how long we live.
A lot of my friends who are approaching retirement are musing about what they will do with their time. They are somehow equating the quality of life with the allocation of time to quality activities, and by doing that I think they are setting themselves up for some difficulty. I have learned that all activity has as much quality as I bring to it and that the quality of the experience is never found in the activity itself. A great opera or museum can be boring, a marvelous vacation can be tedious and tiring, and stimulating conversations can be challenging and even confrontational.
Aging has taught me that the one choice I always have is how I am relating to the world, my experience and whatever I am doing. Most of us don’t think about how we relate to our world. As such we are left to cope as best we can with whatever we perceive and experience. In my experience this always leaves me wanting more or struggling to make life different than it is—trapped in the never-ending quest for control, the ultimate ego trip. Somewhere along the line, I learned to accept life on life’s terms, to be grateful for whatever I have and keep my attention on the needs of others. The result is a kind of transformation of time, the ability to mostly ‘be’ present. When I am, I no longer fuss about the future or wallow in memories of past victories and defeats. I also have discovered that when I am present or ‘not-in-time’, I am healthier, happier and more connected to other people and the kind of universal love we can experience when we are not afraid or trying to control everything and everyone around us.
I love getting older….I kinda wish I had gotten the benefits of age a long time ago.