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Lessons on Aging

By Trena Winans, Senior Services Education & Community Outreach Director

In a recent Tuesdays with TED program held at Senior Services in Midland, those present enjoyed two wonderful speakers who addressed lessons gained with age and participated in a rich discussion. The ideas that emerged seem worthy of spreading further than that room.

Our lives have changed so that we become called to ask ourselves how we should live now that our lifespans exceed any expectation we had of such longevity. What are the drawbacks, but more importantly, what are the positives?

No one is pretending that aging is a piece of cake. There are downsides, most of which, we are well aware and include a host of losses. Not only people, but places, energy, and sometimes independence are lost along the paths of our lives. Physical bodies and faces change, and some people find themselves feeling invisible in our youth-oriented culture.

Yet, the gifts of age are plentiful! Many report a feeling of greater freedom. There is nothing needing to be proved anymore, and so many of the anxieties of youth and middle age melt away. Author Isabel Allende in her TED talk, referred to feeling softer, lighter as she learned to let go of grudges, ambition and vanity. Participants in our discussion referred to a sense of openness as their perceptions and goals changed and as they learned to be more present.

Some overarching lessons emerged from the combined wisdom of these elders.
• Find and nurture your passions.
• Find or keep a sense of purpose.
• Watch changes to your body with kindness.
• Be insatiably curious. Nurture your desire to keep learning and experiencing life!
• Say YES—to whatever comes your way, whether it be difficult or easy. Aging is all about attitude.
• Live passionately with an open heart!

How much might be gained if we all shared these lessons with children, grandchildren and friends. What lessons would you add? Let us resolve to keep sharing our lessons and adding to the long list of positives that come with living longer lives!