Elderly man sitting on public bench

Ageing – problem or challenge for Baby Boomers?

In Insight and Experience by LivingNowLeave a Comment

Although one of the particular characteristics of Baby Boomers is that they don’t wish to think about ageing – and they may even think they are untouchable by the wiles of time – it is worthwhile considering life from an aged perspective.

One day, unexpectedly, as it enters your awareness that more and more acquaintances are passing away, you will be confronted with it as a fact no longer to be overlooked: you, too, are not going to live on beyond a certain time.

You may have given yourself another 20 to 25 years – doing what? The same thing as always: passing the time with all kinds of activities – some meaningless, perhaps most just serving the body’s appetites or the mind’s fears and cravings. However, at some time, health declines, the energy at your disposal dwindles, and others begin to perceive you – who had always taken pride in your youthful appearance – as old. Or at any rate: ageing.

And there is more that you can now no longer deny. Your health may never improve again. Your body will never be youthful again. You may never be in loving union with a love partner again.

There is no turning back the clock: your life has passed its peak. Where now are you headed? What has remained as your goal? The body’s appetites, the mind’s cravings – can there be lasting meaning in that?

But body and mind, predominant so long in your perception of yourself, is not all there is to you. Your soul’s longing conceives of a value beyond all that your body and mind have ever experienced. This value is lasting, unchanging, never diminishing. It is called Love.

Listen to your soul’s voice. Can you be still long enough to hear it?

For there are other voices: plentiful, loud and insistent. Voices warning you not to look for new and untried ways, or that there is no real substance to ‘love’, or telling you that you needn’t worry because you’ve got many more years to enjoy life as before. Voices that tell you that your health will improve, that you’ll still find fulfilment with a love partner. Or in some other way, yet to be worked out…

Expectations. Fantasies. Plans. And still more voices are loudly proclaiming the opposite: “You’re finished. There’s no hope left for you. Your future promises nothing but a series of depressing steps towards oblivion. Unless you somehow manage to go back to…”
…Doing what?

Now finally you have to own up. What is it that has been worthwhile in your life? Think back…

Only some moments. Moments of loving. Of joyous union with another being, sharing bliss. Of losing yourself in an activity based in Higher purpose – creative, ecstatic, of service to Life. Putting a laugh on a child’s face, or a smile on an adult’s. Being greeted with gratitude for opening up to another’s troubles. Suffering inconvenience, or pain yourself – yet not being victim to it, but conqueror, to the extent of not blaming another, whatever the circumstances. (‘I must have called them into my life, or they would never have affected me. I’m suffering only because my beliefs won’t permit me to do otherwise – but I now will to change that, utilising the situation instead for my learning!’) These are all-too-rare occasions.

Yet those were the moments that counted, and still count. Moments to be remembered cherished with joy.

True: the years are passing, and your body – as you may begin to notice daily – is subject to inevitable decay. But you sense that this may not matter so much if there is something intimately connected with you that will endure.

Is this, then, perhaps what ageing is all about? Learning to distinguish between what is transitory destined to be forgotten – and what is of lasting value?

Learning to treasure. Seeing through the sham, the glossy substitutes that pass for real, the self-deceptions that have usurped the place of truth, the addictions we love to take to be ‘love’. What matter that the body is weakening and undeniably ageing? That, clearly, is to be expected when living in a space-time dimension.

Why didn’t this strike me before? What was I so engrossed in – not even fully appreciating the love and beauty I did have, when it surrounded me? Youth, energy and physical health. The constant availability of physical activity and recreation. Numerous friendships, the love of those close to me, the playful energy of children … Not to mention a host of little things that were precious. Or could have been to me, had I been less immersed in everyday worries and truly appreciated them: used them to give value to my life. Had I but stopped awhile and opened my eyes…

And if do so now, what do I see? A past full of opportunities, all too few of them seized. And in the mirror: a declining body whose main tasks are completed – but which is still vehicle to a soul who is finally waking up. At last daring to emerge, no longer afraid of being hurt or diminished by other people’s opinions. Getting ever more clear now about my future path – which can but lead in the direction of that which will last. More loving, more forgiving. More open, more tolerant, more aware. Realising that so much we habitually hold dear and get excited or possessive about just does not matter in the overall scheme of things. But that there is one thing that does matter: Love. Love as it is experienced not in getting, but in the giving of it.

So at last, after many wasted years: beginning truly to live; gradually emerging into my truth. With each new year of bodily ageing, being born ever more joyfully into LIFE.

A life no longer wasted in pursuit of what is transient, clinging to material things or mental gratification, but rooted in the only power that is known to last. For it is Love’s nature never to diminish or change.

Exploring this new way of being has now become my purpose. As I slowly make progress, the days begin to open up, and the gain is a strange new wonder and joy. Gradually, and reluctantly at first but with ever more certainty, I learn to realise: bodily ageing, inextricably linked as it is with the passing of time, is the most natural phenomenon to be experienced during physical existence. As such it cannot possibly be a ‘problem’ – certainly nothing to fear, or worry about. What is a problem, however, is, holding on – as I still find myself doing, too. Clinging to what is past, passing, destined to die…

Take the jump then – learning to let go of all this and being carried along willingly in the Flow of the everlasting Present. Surrendering to what is, and is bound to happen in time. To freedom: no longer enslaved by what matters not. Then you will find yourself, for the remaining years of your physical existence, joyously in the service of LOVE. Serving that Power which first caused you to enter the physical world, which nourished you ever since – and which alone can be trusted to keep doing so.

If Love is
the Power I serve
wherein shall I
ever lack ?

Rainer Taëni, based in Mullumbimby, NSW, has a background of academia, street theatre and primal therapy. His latest book is entitled “Love – the goal of living”.

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