How old is “older”?
Well…I don’t know what the exact entry point is, but being in my mid 60s certainly puts me in in the “older adult” demographic.
I can say with certainty that life is more beautiful than ever right for me right now.
I’m not going to pretend that everything gets easier as I grow older.
Even after many years of habitually eating healthy, exercising vigorously, getting plenty of rest, etc., the biological clock does continues to tick. Tissues, fluids and other structures just aren’t what they used to be.
And as a lifelong learner, as much as I still love to challenge my intellect and follow my curiosity and thirst for knowledge, I simply can’t process new information as fast as I’d like to able to (nowhere near as fast as I could as a younger adult).
But as I grow older, I’m most thankful for this one particular quality:
I’m able to give love and receive love so easily. And I’m also able to feel this love so frequently, and express it so readily.
I’m certainly not alone in this regard. Whenever I communicate with my brother or my sisters (I’m the baby in the family, by the way), this exchange of love and expression of gratitude toward each other always colors the conversation. It delights me in the deepest way.
I never take this for granted. Never. Simply the best.
And so it is with all of my “older” friends, too. Lots of hugs, lots of laughter, lots of support. A genuine and deep joy in hearing the other’s good news (and carrying in our hearts their worries). The truth is spoken readily, but always kindly, with each other.
This was not always the case when we were younger. It’s not that we loved each other any less, but just that we didn’t seem to bring our attention to this topic very much.
I also think that, in my case anyhow, insecurities and fear (and other hidden agendas) sometimes got in the way.
Maybe this is what it means to finally and completely “mature” as a human being: we return to feeling, expressing and accepting love as freely as we did when we were small children. A divine state of being, as if we’re returning to the eternal love of our mothers.
During my cancer diagnosis, after hearing the news about how “aggressively fast” this cancer seemed to be moving inside my body, I came home with a strong feeling that this was very likely the beginning of the end of my life. (Thankfully, I was wrong; cancer free now after a year of treatment!)
It was the first time I ever truly contemplated my demise in real time. I had many emotions coursing through me.
But strangely enough, I didn’t feel as afraid as I thought that I would. Instead, I was overwhelmed with am almost immobilizing sadness.
A big part of this sadness was about no longer seeing my children, of not being able to see my beautiful daughter, Julia, grow up. And of course I had deep worry about how she would get along without me.
My wife, Bia, held me close as I wept after telling her this news. I told her how sorry I was for this burden she, too, will have to bear, and told how grateful I was to have her in my life. That’s when the clarity of this sadness came to me.
It was in the form of a heavy regret. And that regret was simply this:
I regretted that I after I died, the people in my life that I so dearly loved, would never know how much I absolutely loved them.
And to be honest, I don’t know if they ever will. Because it’s not up to me to know that. I came to realize that all I can do is love them with all my heart, act in ways that are in accordance with that love, and accept that that is enough.
So I continue to let it flow through me freely…
I’m not sure what the so called “meaning of life” is, exactly. And I have now idea about what happens after we die.
But I know without doubt that if there is a “meaning” to this life, it is realized by helping each other along the way. And love is the light that guides us and energizes us to do exactly that.
So I’ll just keep on enjoying these wonderful times. The best of times, indeed.