it’s not dark yet…

Aging actually could be fun if it weren’t for the dying. I think it should be fun because really, like Bob Dylan says, ‘It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there’. 

We know so much now and so much better. We have so much experience, we have come to understand what’s important. We know how to value beauty, people, time. We know how to appreciate the things that have challenged us and others. We know that less is more and that experiences trump things. 

And you must know how to have fun, wild crazy fun. Right?

It’s not aging that scares us, it’s dying of course. It’s the dying, stupid. If we just continued to age on and on, if our wrinkles acquired wrinkles and our sags got sags, and then we metamorphosed into something else, something very different looking than the average human being, and, assuming the parts — the livers and hearts and knees etc. — could be replaced, we’d be fine with aging. At least I would be.

Even though the future of life as we know it seems precarious, I would still like to be around for the show. And I find it hard indeed to think of not being here to see, taste, hear, and feel wonderful things.

I have really greedy eyes, I devour pictures of things like they were food. When I say pictures, I mean both the live pictures that my eyes register when I’m out and about, and the images I consume, everywhere from Instagram to TV, books, and magazines.

And feelings. 

Feelings, little rushes of exhilaration due to art, love, exercise, and amusement — soul food. 

Because I’m a visual person, I can’t imagine not seeing beauty, and because I’m a very physical person, I can’t imagine not ever again feeling the rush of endorphins I do when……I do yoga. And worst of all, I’m not ok with the idea of leaving my significant other behind. Even though I know all will be well, and life goes on, I’m not at peace with leaving him yet. 

There are those who say that they will eventually get tired of living. Will they, though? So, take a nice, long nap and then rejoin us, we who are clinging to life like it was, well, life. Sometimes when I hear people say they’d get tired and let the young people take over I think it’s lame, at other times nice. Mostly I think it’s nonsense.

We are attached to life; that’s what makes us human: our ability to become engaged, to form relationships, to want more.

Non-attachment is one of the cornerstones of Buddhism and I try to practice it as much as I can. Not being attached to things I’m mostly good with. Non-attachment to people, ok. Outcomes, no problem. But when it comes to Life, I have a very long way to go.

At this time of my life especially, I really like it here very much.

That wasn’t always the case, and I suppose that’s why I’m kind of gung ho about living today. Poverty, illness, bad relationships have challenged me but they have also created me. The core of all of us, I think, is more about what has hurt us than what has been easy.

The stuff that has really rocked a person’s world, the things they had to survive are far more interesting and valuable than their day-to-day existence or even wordly accomplishments. 

I suppose I’m kind of tired of talking about aging though, even if it’s become my thing. I want to find another way to do it, a more meaningful, less dreary way. I still follow writers and bloggers and activists that deal with aging and ageism but sometimes I wish I didn’t have to. Isn’t that the case with all of our causes?  

When I worked with the homeless, I wanted people not to be homeless. When I worked with victims of domestic violence, I didn’t want there to be any victims. But aging isn’t a cause for me the way it is for say, Ashton Applewhite. Well, her thing is actually ageism, but you can’t separate the two. Aging is followed by ageism.  

Anyway, back to death. (You see how I conveniently went off on a tangent, away from dying?) That’s the way it is with death, we only want to touch on it and quickly move on. 

I love Emily Dickinson’s:

‘Because I could not stop for Death —He kindly stopped for me —The Carriage held but just Ourselves —And Immortality.’

But it makes me shudder. 

Anita   

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