Comfortable with aging! Never in all my past years would I have believed this feeling and thought would become my new normal, my default and my gift. Yet, in fact, I like it a lot. It feels like my “favorite shirt.” One of those wonderful cotton, soft meshy gray sweatshirt-like garments worn by years of aging that becomes my stand-by shirt to put on when I want to feel warm, cozy and safe.
Recently on the Ted Talks, Jane Fonda said, “Now that I am actually smack-dab in the middle of my own third act, I realize I’ve never been happier. I have such a powerful feeling of well-being. And I’ve discovered that when you’re inside oldness, as opposed to looking at it from the outside, fear subsides. You realize, you’re still yourself — maybe even more so.”
These last three decades of life can actually be the stage of developmental expansion when we meet ourselves as we truly are. A stage of staircases ascending upward instead of the old paradigm of the arch that slowly (and sometimes quickly) descends into a life of less and less.
I believe the most important questions to ask ourselves now are, “How will I spend this time? How can I use this time to flourish and grow? Where can I explore and experiment to keep discovering new ways to live? What was I supposed to accomplish in this final act? As “being young” drops away, what wisdom will surface to be explored?”
While there are no guarantees about health, disease or physical challenges since genetics predict 1/3 of what will happen, our human spirit can continue to grow until the end, taking one step at a time up the final staircase if we never give up. For me, keeping a receptive open “what’s next for me” state of mind while welcoming what shows up to explore and experience is how I choose to move through these years.
In my gym, I work with older people every day that refuse to give up. These people have various physical issues that will not improve, yet they show up, working the parts that work, avoiding the ones that don’t. Always moving forward to see what is possible now physically. I find these experiences so powerful and inspiring, reminding me daily of the potential in everyone.
Putting on my “favorite” shirt, I get dressed for the day knowing that I don’t know exactly what this day holds, yet I welcome all of it.