Ultimate procrastination – that describes my avoidance of writing this article.  I recently had a similar experience when preparing to facilitate a workshop on the topic:  “Finding Calm in Your Busy Workplace”. My slow response in the workshop incident supports the saying: “we teach what we need to learn”. Mmm – I wonder … “I write what I need to learn”?

Okay – I write my commitment: to clarify and activate the authentic message that is the foundation of how I live my life, how I do my work, how I write, how I explain my meaning and purpose through social media and how I facilitate conversation circles.

What is my message? The focus includes holism – the mind, body, heart and soul connection – worthiness, wisdom, faith, curiosity, courage, transformation, belonging, the metaphoric dark and the light, and the theme of aging.

OUCH – I feel the anxiety, the fear and even the anger from others who tell me they do not want to talk about what it means to age. I can understand their logic when aging is equated with and all about old and older. I also relate to ways of thinking and strategies used to pretend, deny, avoid, and make excuses for an ever present reality. Who wants to meet the unpleasant physical, emotional, mental, social consequences of aging, of getting older?

Grow old or Age?

In his recent book, Soulful Aging, Thomas Moore writes that it is possible to grow old without aging. What a curious concept! Does this mean we have a choice? Grow old or age? According to Moore, when we age, we accept the invitation to engage and co-operate with Life. WHEW – I feel more settled with the choice of aging as a life-affirming experience.

In my workshops and conversation circles, I remind people that AGE is the number that describes our years on this earth. How curious it is that as children we want that number to increase quickly. I remember that to be of age for Grade One seemed to take forever. As my birthday is in December, my closest girlfriends had their celebrations first. I was thrilled to finally be 16 like all the others.

AGING is the experience that moves us from our beginning of life to our end. Aging is about deep and transcendent change, transformation that happens with our many experiences over time. With every moment in our past, our present and into the future — we age. Now many years since my birth, I continue to learn that how I age has much to do with my relationship with life – its joys and its sorrows. I accept that the past and present phases influence what my future with increasing age will be.

The Challenges of Life

Aging as the Life Experience | Gloria McArterTo meet the challenges of life, the qualities of courage and worthiness are called for at any age. When these qualities are honored and developed, they provide the energy to learn and grow and heal the wounds – the physical, emotional, spiritual and relational pains felt with age.

In my young adult years, I was focused on what I call “the externals” – academic education and my “firsts” – job, car, apartment, intimate relationship. The word “aging” was not in my vocabulary and I am sure I avoided “I am getting old” conversations. Conversations, people and experiences that attracted me were similar to my early years when I felt connected to a power greater than I, that provided me with loving support for survival.  My aging is the invitation, the calling for the “external way of being” to evolve to the “internal journey” of Being and Becoming.

The Life Force wants to be expressed in the aging child and in the aging adult. How would it be, when your age number is low, to be curious and say YES to each moment? As your age number increases, you face more challenges from experience. You also have the opportunity to define what aging looks like to you. At your age, you care for your energy – at times as youthful and others not so. You honor your uniqueness, courageously question the presence of aging and move forward, one moment, one hour, one day, one year –  to the next.

You have choices – to use the words “aging” or “getting old” or neither.

  • Might this be the time for fewer words and more reflection and action?
  • How do you actively engage in life at any age?
  • How do you now learn from physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, relational changes and challenges to prepare for lifelong aging?

Longevity begins today and your choices will have an impact on the quality of later life. Each experience is an opportunity to age into energy, into fullness of being, belonging and becoming.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please feel free to share them in the comments below.

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