Some thoughts on aging

2 Apr

Sometimes I think age is a process of getting younger, each new fact layered upon us makes life less knowable, makes us believe less in our own ability; takes away any faith in certainty, learning that it’s just a concept we created to trick ourselves into being comfortable.

The young may be naïve but their power is in their unquestioned self – they just BE. They don’t navel gaze or reach for anything beyond their immediate experience and they wonder at it all.  When I say young, I mean very young – twelve and under, or less. There are books written about their savagery, about their lack of empathy, about their innate goodness and this is true of all of us. The young are more connected with their primal self having not yet fully learned society’s rules.

As we age, we decide we need to fit into certain spaces and try to stretch ourselves into that shape. We forget that self-certainty; we forget our own perception of values and morality and learn others. We are told over and over again, “this is what you need to do and be in life to be successful, and you must strip away your primal self because that is not the way to live.”

This eventual disconnection causes problems and an overwhelming feeling of not enough-ness. We start to search for antidotes for the pain, we learn to lie, we learn to drink, we learn to betray the compasses that sit inside of us, and we’re told this is adulthood.

I call it the loss of self, and I think it’s necessary.   We must lose ourselves to journey back to it because when (and if) we do return, reclaim what we were born to it is with the sheen of wisdom and the knowledge that this is our most authentic way of being, which is richer, more vibrant for all of the experience. If it wasn’t for the journey, we would forever be stuck in certainty, playing games with one another on repeat, never building anything.

However, when our certainty is unmoored it makes life fresh all of the time, and more frightening, not only do we learn things empathy, but we also learn fear and loss, and this both ages us and makes us younger for life become more flexible and each moment that ticks by can be a mistake, a loss of self, a wrong direction, and it connects us back to the person who didn’t know anything about the experience of living, and learn how much we really don’t know.

As each year passes, we simultaneously age both ways, knowing how much we don’t know, learning what makes us happy, finding that childhood, pure self in a new form that’s been waiting for us all along, until eventually the body starts breaking, functions that were once taken for granted slowly (or quickly) leave and in the end we all need care-taking.

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