I watch with awe as my parents, sharp and agile, age with grace. French author Jules Renard once wrote: “It’s not how old you are, it’s how you are old.” Mom and dad have done it well. They remain active, vibrant, and engaged. Yes, they are a step or two slower, but I hope that’s my biggest concession if I am fortunate enough to reach my mid-eighties.
Time marches on at a steady pace, neither slowed nor quickened by experiences. Like a car set to cruise control, its progress advances with constancy. Youth pays it little attention. Middle age gives it begrudging notice. Seniority sets a place at the table in acknowledgment of its force.
We have modest influence over our physical relationship with aging. Diet and exercise help. But we cannot pull its reins in. It proceeds with or without our consent. Yet we can control our mental rapport with growing older. Getting consumed by physicality and frailties is, for lack of a better word, unhealthy. My wife and I had brunch with some old friends recently. We laughed with appreciation when we realized two hours had passed before our conversation devolved into a brief discussion of our various ailments.
Wallowing in health details serves little purpose. Those who suffer from life-threatening diseases belong in a different category while they courageously battle. But for the rest of us, it is detrimental. Almost three years ago, a serious ailment blindsided me. It sent me reeling. My physical recovery outpaced my mental healing. In time, I came into a new alignment with how I view my health.
With perspective, one of aging’s greatest gifts, I sorted my emotions, embracing those that served me and shelving those that did not. I still have occasional moments where I need to check myself, dig into appreciation, and brush aside negativity. When I consider my parents’ success in life, their unyielding perseverance stands out. Their never-give-up approach has spirited them into their senior years. They concentrate on their capabilities, not what they can no longer do.
Three decades from now, I hope to reach mom and dad’s age with the same dignity and nimbleness they possess, so off I go to stretch and meditate.