Perhaps the cruelties of aging are hidden beneath the images of comfort and well-being or condemned to invisibility by eyes not ready to see. Neither diminished the realities of its demands. Neither leaves life as it was or even as a somewhat familiar path. For aging is deeply embedded in the life process; the challenges of daily living are neither restrained nor obscured by its expanding presence. Aging is embedded in DNA, a rock solid certainty like death and taxes, and its toll is not prepaid and yet is undeniable. Aging recognizes the fierceness of being human and the complex realities of institutions and families, the ways humans interact with one another and the environment that encapsulates the days and hours of lives. For none of us lives free of others and none of us can escape the forces that surround us. Most importantly, aging is understood only as it happens and is what makes it true that each of us lives in our own time.
In its own way, aging is a becoming that is both a beautiful burden and a generous gift. There is the treasure trove of experiences, memories, relationships and learnings. And that is juxtaposed with the physical and emotional expenditure and cost of every single one. Wandering through the desert or waltzing between and among the stars, each of us creates a tapestry of being. The brightest sparkling lights that pierce daily existence with joyful exhiliration can be followed by the devastation of unexpected loss or the monotony of all that is mundane. Every experience finds its way into the physical, traces its legacy in wrinkles and wear. Years slip by and so youth yeilds to what we say is middle and then into the later stages and finally, beyond the senior citiizen discount, the elderly. Aging is always occurring, always beginning again and then beginning agian in another phase.
The richness of how we are and who we can be is the rebirth that characterizes each step of our lives. Resilience enables and empowers each of us to weave that tapestry, to find the inner strength that generates a radiant confidence. And it is discovered in the desert, in the times when heat and thirst and light are unremitting. There, where all things are laid bare and the simplicity of the landscape defies the complications of life, choices are made. We make the choice to listen to heart and to soul…or not. The choice to see what is really there….or not. The choice to know within who we are and act accordingly….or not. And then, when we walk away from the desert, every setting has a fresh and sharpened view. It is not the landscape, but the way it is seen that has changed. Aging is the realization that who we are and who we can be is a gift for everyday that awaits each of us because change and our perspective about that is constantly evolving.
One day, the aging ends. The journey is finally complete.