04 Jun “When you cease to contribute, you begin to die”
Eleanor Roosevelt’s words above are right on target. When we stop engaging with others, and stop doing things that have meaning and purpose for us, we start to shrivel up. Our elder years can be a time to find new ways of engaging with others, and better aligning who we are on the inside with what we do in the outside world. We can try on other ways of doing and being and becoming.
Certainly physical changes come along as we age, but I’m talking about our emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. We may not be able physically to do as much as we used to, nor even want to, but that’s no reason to give up on life.
I think what all this boils down to as attitude. For example, it’s wonderful to finally reach a stage of accepting ourselves as we are. This doesn’t mean, however, that we give up on always trying to be our best selves, and become a better person.
Maybe some of us don’t want to be so much in the world as we used to, and so we can be more discerning about where and when we show up, and who we spend time with. It’s okay to shed toxic relationships, or find new ways of loving. Love is whatever we do to nurture our own or another’s spiritual growth, and our families and neighbourhoods are full of opportunities to exercise love.
More in the world
On the other hand, some of us may feel a new freedom in being more in the world, and speaking up about our true inner thoughts or courageously describing situations as we see them. In my own quiet way, I’m trying to be an “outrageous older woman”. A friend of mine is more like ‘the kind of woman who, when her feet hit the floor in the morning, the devil says, “Oh crap, she’s up!” ’ (Author unknown).
Developing an attitude of curiosity, and opening up to the new situations – pleasant or unpleasant – that we find ourselves in, may call on us to exercise our courage in new ways. As Mary Anne Radmacher said, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”