Being 64 years old I can say I am truly enjoying ageing and I have felt like that for quite some years. I was never concerned about getting older, about wrinkles or being less worthy because I am older. What used to concern me was that my health, or deteriorating health would not allow me to look after myself anymore or to live independently.
This points to the importance of going out there and opening up to people, connecting and making friends and nourishing and maintaining these friendships. Not because then I can have help, but because I enjoy helping and supporting other people too whenever I can. And it is wonderful to share ourselves and learn from each other.
That is what community is about; to share, work, help and support each other, and learn about our patterns and behaviours. And it is such a joy!
There are a lot of older people who are alone and isolated either because they have moved to a new area and find it difficult to make new friends, or whose partner passed over, or for other reasons. Most would really like to have some friends to talk to and feel close to.
When I moved to a new area to be closer to a hospital I found it quite difficult to make really good friends. I remember my first Christmas/New Year alone at home. I thought ‘What did I do leaving all my friends?’ I felt sorry for myself and unwanted because none of the people I knew where I moved to invited me for any of the Christmas dinners or gatherings. Not that I invited anybody either. I waited hoping that someone would approach me and invite me.
So, the next Christmas I invited people, different friends every day, and I got invited too so that I ended up having meals with friends every day over the Christmas/New Year period. And that was the beginning of a busy time with lots of friends who I now share meals with, or walks, or cups of tea.
I learned that I have to go out myself and reach out and connect to people.
I can enjoy ageing even while being not well and needing help, and I use this as an opportunity to stop, connect and be still, instead of ‘doing’ all the time.
Ageing, I actually feel younger every day. I have healed and let go of a lot of baggage, old hurts from decades or lives ago, which makes me feel a lot lighter and at ease. There is more space now for joy and more important things in life. I sold my TV some years ago and still have plenty to do and my mind and the thoughts that come in are much clearer.
I am accepting and surrendered to what life presents me. Struggling with and fighting what does not suit me makes life difficult and can make me miserable and sick since I can’t change it anyway.
But I can make more loving choices for my body to feel as well as possible by having my mind with my body and not following some criticising, judging or 'putting down' thoughts, or going into the future of what might be or how to do something. It is so joyful to be present with me and my body in whatever I do.
Having healed and let go of a lot of ‘stuff’, the innocence and joy of the playful child I once was is coming out again. Some old people become like a child again in the sense of being childish, irresponsible and dependent but I am re-discovering more the joy and vitality and playfulness of a child.
I have two older sisters who both live on the other side of this planet and one of them has not talked to me for most of my adult life. But I now know many women older than me and I so enjoy having these loving and absolutely gorgeous older ‘sisters’.
The beauty with getting older is that with – I was going to say life experience, but it is really ‘The Way of the Livingness’ experience, which is a way to live honest and gentle, honouring and respecting other people and yourself, including your body – my life is now very enjoyable and feels great.
The world, our community, needs us. The younger ones need to experience some older people who can teach them values, and reflect to them a life that is joyful and full of purpose and responsibilities. That is often missing in today’s generation.
Older people used to be respected and had a role in the community till they passed over. Now look at many stuck in nursing homes, often drugged, totally checked out and with no responsibility, or so we think. Responsibility never leaves us. And look at us elder ladies – writers for the Joy of Ageing book and website – full of beans, spunk, purposeful and willing to do whatever is needed to be done.
It does not matter how old you are, you are always ageing from birth on. And children enjoy getting older, exploring things and becoming more able to participate in life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if parenting and school and the community supported them to keep enjoying ‘getting older’, to live a joyful, responsible, productive life until they pass over?
It is never too late to engage in life and that is what I am living now till my last breath. There is a true way to be, which is to be ourselves. There are things to do, to share, to give back to the community.
Ingrid L., Australia