“The cold wind brings me back to the terrace, and somewhere I can hear singing, like the lady at the restaurant earlier that sang the saddest sounding amore’ I have ever heard in my life. That was the only word I understood, and that was enough. In a way, that describes very well what this trip has been for me. Come to think of it, it describes life very well. Despite not understanding, or misunderstanding, the little we do know is many times all we need.”
– Last Night in Lisbon
This is Why Anti-Aging is So Big
I turned 37 today. 37! 3 years away from the 4-0 milestone. A part of me still feels very young but another part understands that I’m aging. That’s not a bad thing. In a world that’s obsessed with looking, acting, and staying young, I feel like an anomaly. I’m happy to look they way look, act the way I act, and be whatever I am in the moment.
I actually think it’s sad to see people fighting so hard and trying so much to project their youthful ideal. Whether it’s the plasticky over-engineered woman or the youth-sucking dirty old man, what it really shows is a cosmetic confidence not an inner depth and stability. It’s as if they never reached a point of being so comfortable with who they really are whatever they are. For me, to be comfortable in your own skin is more important, and more attractive, than flawless skin.
As I thought about aging, and the different ways people age, I realized that for many people, I would even guess most people, time creeps up on them. One day they’re young, and the next thing they know, they’re old. One day they’re healthy, and the next thing they know they’re sickly. One day they’re strong, and the next thing they know they’re weak. One day they’re passionate, and the next thing they know they’re directionless. The idea that this can very easily happen to me scares me, that I can go through life and wake up one day that I actually didn’t happen to life but that life happened to me. I wasn’t the artist of my piece but driftwood caught in the current.
Maybe this is why anti-aging is so big, because people are realizing the impact of time and how unprepared they are for it, that reflex action is to try to preserve whatever is left, instead of transitioning into the next reality.
As for me, I’m determined to enter every stage of my life with the “shoes of readiness” which the Bible describes as the Gospel of Peace, always reminding myself to be prepare in faith for an uncertain future and inevitable aging.
Less is More
One of the most beautiful things to see, in my opinion, is a person who is aging gracefully. (And the opposite is incredibly ugly to watch.) As I get older, I’ve tried to be more deliberate about how I age, about defining what is most important to me, focusing my energies on those, and being content with what I have and being ok not to have what I don’t. The clearer I define what is of value to me, the more naturally things stick and fall away. Things that are aligned get stronger in my life and things that are misaligned get weaker. The important thing is that I deliberately chose what is important to me so that I don’t wake-up one day realizing I don’t know where the time I can no longer get back went.
The more I practice this, the shorter my list of things to accomplish becomes, not simply because I know I have less time but also because I am more self-aware of what is really important to me and what I’m capable of. For myself, I’m focused on Serenity, Understanding, and Health. For my family, I’m focused on Spiritual Foundations, Physical Health, Financial Stability, and Beautiful Memories. For work, I’m focusing mostly on creating and capturing value at the venture stage. And that’s pretty much my life. Anything extra is exactly that: extra.
This leads me to my final thought on aging. Aging gracefully doesn’t mean that you look younger than your age or can make love like a stallion in your 80s. Aging gracefully means two things to me: Great Awareness and Great Contentment. When you become so aware of and so clear on who you are, what’s important to you, what you’re capable of, and why you exist, and then realize that the life you’ve lived, the life you’re living, is so aligned with that, you take on an undeniable stature, an attractive serenity, and a timeless grace.
You don’t get there through all the cosmetic and material things people chase. You get there from journeying inside yourself and realizing that everything you have, no matter how seemingly little, is really all that you need, and being so grateful that you actually have it all.
Photo by Paula Schmidt