How many times have we heard someone told to act his or her age? It has become such a common phrase in our society; we rarely stop to think what it really means.
This morning, while meditating, a thought came into my head; that I was 10 years younger than I am. Suddenly, I felt great! I once again felt young, as if my life was still ahead of me, rather than mostly behind me. My age is a dilemma that has been irritating me as of late. I thought about numbers and realized, as a society, we place such an enormous significance on the number of our age; but we don’t think about what those numbers really mean.
Imagine it like trying on a new coat, if you take it away and put another in its place you’ll feel totally different. If this is the case, that our age isn’t anything but a number, how do we live our best life? By enjoying each stage in its present form.
Firstly, it’s important to consider it from a perspective of experience. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. Sometimes, we confuse it for wanting to be in a different stage of our earlier lives. We were thinner, younger, more beautiful or handsome; so many physical characteristics we hold so dear and lament when we grow and change over time.
Secondly, an inordinate focus on physical attractiveness is what creates a major dilemma in our society; ageism takes away from the power and beauty of growing older. Many are afraid that our ability to be as quick and spry as we once were mentally or physically will be noticed by colleagues, bosses and other people in our workplace and lives.
It’s one characteristic that the everyday person has in common with celebrities. How many times have we heard a story where a celebrity was no longer considered for a role because they were ‘past their prime’? They were no longer perceived as being a popular, ageless figure. We begin to believe that if these powerful people can experience these problems why wouldn’t it happened to us?
Similarly, we then watch them strive, but rarely find, solace in changing their physical appearance to be more palatable to the public. The major problem with this is not the alteration of the way that they look. It’s the fear that growing older is something to stave off or be self-conscious about instead of something to celebrate.
Outside of the physical, we then find, that we miss experiences or relationships that we had in the past. Instead of focusing on what is now and a little bit of what’s ahead, we find ourselves holding onto things that only hold us back. To experience full joy is to live in the present moment. To cherish each breath, to make the most of your current wisdom and appreciate the wisdom of all of your years.
It’s easy to remember the good times we had in the past, what we tend to forget, is the challenges that changed us; the troubles that made us strong— the situations that turned us into the people that we are now. Those characteristics can be seen on our outward appearance; every age line, every early gray, is a badge of our courage to have survived every day thus far. They’re a testament to our tenacity and our ability to grow.
Next time you meditate, or even look in the mirror, try a change of perspective on your perception of your current self. Allow yourself to feel whole in your soul instead of trapped in the age of your vessel. This life is short and precious, every bit counts, there isn’t one reason to waste our ability to truly experience every moment of our lives—especially in be sorrowful for growing older and wiser.