Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Growing Old ... Gracefully

What is it about getting older that scares the shit out of people?
Ask any hair stylist who their biggest money maker clients are, and they will tell you it is those who try to cover up their age with a different color of hair. 
Why is this?
Anyone who has known me for a minute will tell you that this is not a custom I embrace. 
In fact, quite the opposite.
I've been begging my friend/hair stylist for years to dye my hair grey because it's not coming in naturally as fast as I would like it to.
Call me crazy... but I think grey hair is a crown of glory and should be embraced with honor, not chemicals to cover it up.

Now of course, I know I am in the minority here, and I don't judge the mass population that feels otherwise, I just wonder sometimes what is it that we are SO afraid of?
To me growing old is an honor and a privilege that many people don't get the luxury of doing. 
Those of us that are given years beyond our 60s, 70s, and even 80s should be so blessed because it is extended time here on this beautiful planet that provides more learning and is full of one adventure after another. 
There are of course parts of getting older that aren't so fun, but if we would only shift our perspective to see how lucky we are to have the time we have here... we might see things in a whole other light. 

"I am learning to hold health and sickness, weakness and strength, and even life and death side by side- two sides of one coin. In fact,  it is the acceptance of death that has finally allowed me to choose life. I am learning that it is never either-or but both, and more. Not life or death, but life and death, health and sickness, good and bad. Both, and something more. I am learning to love the human condition, to say a full and rousing yes to it all, to work with it, to choose it, just as it is, every day."

Recently I attended a gathering of artists that came together to talk about the topic of aging.
To me the "growing old gracefully" topic has always fascinated me.
It's possible that it has always held my interest because I'm an old soul.
I truly appreciated the conversation at this gathering.
 It was about not only the young learning from the old, but vice versa. 
There were many elements of truth to what was talked about, but what I took away that really resonated is how we have lost this conversation between the young and old. 
The gap seems so wide.
The divide too big to bring together. 
And somehow when we attempt to cross that great divide the words get lost in translation.

The OLD says- "I'm older and wiser SO therefore you should listen to me."
The YOUNG says- "I'm young and full of life let me live it and don't tell me what to do"
When really the reality is that we both need each other so desperately. 
We need the wisdom that can only come from age, and we need the hope and inspiration and new knowledge that can only come from the young. 

I'm extremely grateful for my close friends and family members who are older than I am and who are living life to the fullest. 
I look at them and glean so much from their life experiences. 
They give me hope and inspire me to be that person for someone else who is younger than I am, and might a need a voice of encouragement.

The picture below captured some of these older people who give me hope in my life. 
These are my people and they make me proud.

My Uncle Mal passed away last week and left behind his now widow my Aunt Joan. Only days after her husband died she was choosing life and love and bringing joy to the older friends she had made in  an assisted living place she had been residing.

You can find her in the picture in the blue shirt with swollen eyes from tears and a smile on her face. This moment was taken only 5 days after her beloved had passed away and she is there with her two brothers, and my mom and her grand niece Savanah. They are all bringing joy to those around them, because my Aunt would say, as her mother said before her, and her sister(my mom) has said to me;

"Life is for the living!" 
I am also beyond giddy for the young life that surrounds me because they continue to challenge me to see life through different lenses. 
It may seem uncomfortable at first, much like getting used to a new pair of glasses can be, but in the end the outcome of pushing through the awkward learning phase there is beauty and laughter, and life.
WE are in this thing called life together. 
When we don't isolate and are honest with each other about all the challenges as well as the highlights of life we gain a wealth that cannot be measured. 

I feel as though, when we pause and think about what we do with the hours that we are given here, that is where wisdom is found.
That's all this blog post is about.

A moment to pause and thank God that YOU are alive and no matter what age you are you have a voice unlike anyone else's. 
I pray you will take the time to pause and listen from the older and the younger voices in your life. 
I pray that I would always have a voice of encouragement as long as I am blessed to be here. 
I don't have the recipe for growing old gracefully, nor do I think that if you suddenly stop dying the grey out of your hair that you will have it either. 
I just think that somehow it is wrapped up in not being afraid of what is to come and receiving all of life and even death as a teacher.
Here's to being life long students and to growing old with grace!


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