December 22, 2012
“When I was a child, I thought like a child.”
As a writer, from the beginning, my teachers would always say, “Write what you know!”
Who doesn’t know about getting older? Every second of every day we become older. Age is in our faces as we peer in the mirror at the lines developing around our eyes and the gray unfolding in our hair. It’s in our bodies as we get out of bed in the morning with a bit more of a cramp in the left lumbar spine or hip flexor. It’s in the length of time between the snooze button and the time we actually plan to get up. It’s in the amount of caffeine we need to get going.
Today I’m 52 years old. I look at myself and think, really? How did I get this old? I certainly don’t act this old. I’m that same goofy little dude who makes people laugh any chance he gets. It doesn’t help when people say to me, “You look like you’re 36.” Then my ego says, “Oh, yes, I must not be aging like the rest of you folks. I stopped aging, and everyone else’s body is biting the dust.”
Then another cramp hits me in my back and wakes me up. I think again, yes, I am older. No running away from that.
It’s funny, though, I wouldn’t turn back and be young again. Many people say they would. Not me. I love having gone through the hard parts of life and having come out on the other side happier, more joyful, and understanding myself in a more authentic way that I never had before.
Older is definitely wiser, for most people. You can’t live life with open eyes and an open heart without coming out a little better from the worst. I know I have.
The best of me is an amalgam of all the hardest times compressed together, like a diamond. I see the many facets of my past in the way I respond to life, like light reflecting from intricately cut glass. Perspective is the goal all the time. When something happens to me now, it isn’t about what will I lose, or who will I lose, or what will I become as a result of this situation. Life situations become more about the jeweler coming to refashion his/her work and refine it in a way that will make life better. I believe this completely now—unequivocally. I have never come out of any situation in my life a worse person. It’s always a better person, no matter how difficult the situation.
So, I take getting older with a grain of salt, and laugh in its face. Remember the end is always the same: death. That’s the goal of life, you know. The Buddhist tradition helps you understand that with one of its meditations. You think of yourself or someone you are obsessing about and imagine them getting older, dying, then decaying back into the earth.
It humbles you to know that this is the destiny of this human body. So, what do you make of the human existence is this: The best of every day and every moment that you are alive.
Growing older has taught me that.