As part of our focus on Agelessness and the New Earth, Nancy's piece is featured in our Fall Spiritual Journal. Check it out in the digital edition on page 24.
We have all spent time in the stationery shop or our local Walgreens or CVS reading birthday cards to send to someone who is an elder. And I would venture to guess that you have laughed out loud at one or two as the card reads something like:
Age is just a number … Life isn’t about your age … Life is about living … It’s important to have a twinkle in your wrinkle … Aging like a fine wine … You know you are getting old when.
Even advice from legendary folks are found on greeting cards. John Lennon famously wrote:
“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.”
George Burns wrote:
“You know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you’re down there!”
But what is very interesting about these cards filled with words of wisdom is that no one would send one of these funny or sincere birthday wishes to someone turning 3 years old, OR 16 years old OR 44 years old. As we all age, we learn as we grow. Our physical bodies, minds and spirits can only know what we know by the number of years we have grown.
Now, of course, there are always exceptions to the rules. We have all heard someone described as “an old soul,” or “living beyond their years,” etc. For most of us, especially when we live in the present, which we all are striving to do daily, we can only process what we are capable of handling for our age.
I had a conversation recently with a 50-year-old who is dealing with a father who is declining mentally and physically. She is accepting his physically weakened state, but she cannot understand nor tolerate his state of mind. Of course not. She is thinking, wishing and hoping that her father would think and act like her 50-year-old self. She wants him to make good decisions, act quickly and decisively, and stop being so darn “stubborn!”
A 45-year-old employee of a large corporation can only understand the climb to the top by watching and observing others who are a few rungs above them on the corporate ladder. They can, in fact, look back and see others who either are, or are not, learning and climbing. They can give advice to those following them on the ladder, but seldom are they able to run the company from halfway through the climb. Again, there are exceptions to the rules.
A 32-year-old parent looks at their infant with hope, wonder and pure joy. They can have the perfect family blueprint all drawn in permanent ink. But, the minute life changes one line on that paper, they struggle to find answers for “how?,” “now what?,” and many find the faith they never knew they had. They couldn’t know what emotional reserves they had until they were old enough to draw it out of their bank.