Perhaps it is the accumulation of recent experiences. Between my 40th high school reunion last week, seeing new photos of old loves on Facebook recently, looking at myself in the mirror every morning, and this amazingly revealing photo (look close!), this whole aging thing is starting to get to me… BUMMER!
I believe we are all born with the illusion that we will live forever. That’s what makes our youth both interesting and dangerous. Do you remember the first time you realized that you would die someday? I do. It came as a complete shock. When we are young, we believe this will never end.
As we age, we begin to see that cannot possibly be true. We will die just like everyone in the history of the earth has done.
I enjoy my 84-year-old Dad‘s view of death. He’s been a botanist and naturalist for the past sixty years. He now chooses to see himself as an old tree, and we know all trees must die eventually. If they didn’t, there would be no room left for the saplings. What could be more natural?
Life is a process of letting go of one illusion after another. At first we might believe that we control the world around us, our life or our fate. That is what youth is all about, taking control and making something of yourself. If you are lucky you may create a happy illusion of family, good work and permanence.
Midlife is when the illusions start to fall. Perhaps you experience a divorce, or you lose a job or a child. Perhaps you become chronically ill and can see no reason why this happened to you. You begin to see how you must give up the illusion of control.
Surprise. You do not control most of what happens to you.
As your body changes and the wrinkles appear, you can choose to accept what is happening or fight it. Either way you will lose this battle. At present I hate seeing how much everyone I used to know has changed, perhaps because it is too good of a reminder of how much I have changed.
And guess what? My elders inform me, this is just the beginning…
“As life goes on it becomes tiring to keep up the character you invented for yourself, and so you relapse into individuality and become more like yourself every day. This is sometimes disconcerting for those around you, but a great relief to the person concerned.” — Agatha Christie