Preface: A heart-centered maverick living on Whidbey Island off the coast of Seattle. After 81 years, still a work in progress, and still trying to figure it all out. I continue to search, listen and learn. I do not claim to have many answers. The words I share give me a sense of meaning. Hopefully, something here will make a positive difference for you. I am grateful for the opportunity. Ron
Living and Aging Well
No matter where you are or how old or good you are, the opportunity is always there to age well, to become a better you. There is no downside!
Because of our time on the planet, elders are the most experienced and learned, and our many lessons have made us some of the wisest people. And yes, we also know that claiming wisdom is not wise as it carries a sense of arrogance or boastfulness.
While not absolute, many elders transition from the age of active involvement to an era of being-ness. There is no right or wrong. It is simply a choice to continue applying one’s self to actively making a difference or taking the opportunity to smell the roses in a softer state of honoring, blessing and sacredness. Some amazing people can accomplish both!
Each new phase of life brings the loss of a former self and loss of a past identity and meaning. And each new stage of life brings more opportunities to grow, learn, and make new connections, friends, and contributions.
At any age, many keys exist to living a healthy and happy life. First among them are Caring, Compassion, Forgiveness, and Gratitude!
- Caring for yourself and others.
- Having compassion for yourself and others.
- Forgiveness for yourself and others.
- Living daily from a place of Gratitude!
At every point in the journey, memories carry life’s richness, joys, and sorrows. Sorrows are a necessary part of the journey. And, there comes a time when sitting in silence and simply listening brings solace and contentment.
Not long ago, life after retirement meant being put out to pasture; often, the retiree becomes no longer relevant. Do we continue to march forward with the old model of retiring elders, or do we dare create a new reality of inspired ways of elder being-ness and doing-ness?
Many elders are very personally and professionally active. These active elders draw from their experiences, gifts, and accumulated wisdom to redefine and refresh themselves constantly. They look for ways to give back, help others, or make contributions to their communities and the world and grow both intellectually and spiritually. They look for ways to continue making a difference!
Living Longer Than Ever
While the current average life expectancy in the U.S., for both men and women, is in the high 70s, history does not provide a roadmap for people even living into their 70s, let alone into their 80s, 90s, and beyond. Life expectancy in 1920 was 54, and lower before 1920.
On a recent visit to Canada, Pope Francis, 85, used his own vulnerability to demand dignity and respect for older people…
During the same visit, Archbishop Paglia added, “Aging is one of the great challenges of the 21st century.”
Today with large numbers of us living into our 80s and 90s, there is no experience to draw from to be purposeful or vibrant or to live meaningfully or even productively. Without meaningful activities and connections with others, loneliness can become very real!
Wherever you are on the aging scale, consider painting an active picture of what you believe it means to live this extended time of life to the fullest. What do you want that picture to be for yourself?
Wake-up Call — Loneliness!
The downside of not being connected, involved, and having purpose is loneliness.
Loneliness steals joy! It steals zest for life! It steals dignity! Loneliness is a wake-up call to reconsider what you want in your life. Consider creating a different view of your future. At any age, you are still at choice. Again, there is no downside to this!
Make your view of the future your reality! Take action! Check out your local senior services. Join and attend a church or local religious organization. Take care of yourself, get out there, and meet others. If nothing else, consider a personal companion, perhaps a cuddly small dog, maybe a rescue?🐶
Wake-up Call — Forgiveness
Forgiving yourself and others opens the door to well-being and freedom to joyfully move forward with your life. Not forgiving places you in a self-imposed psychological lockdown. Holding on to resentment, hatred, regret, guilt, remorse, shame, and self-punishment detract from Aging Well. Forgive and Live!
What Can You Do to Support Yourself (And Others)?
By supporting those within your sphere of influence, encouraging connections, offering more opportunities to engage, providing reasons to become more active, and recognizing and acknowledging unique lives and life accomplishments, you are honoring each person you touch, and yourself.
For a church or religious community, consider selecting a monthly elder to honor and share recollections of their life’s highlights and accomplishments in your newsletter or bulletin board. Recognize their value and contributions. Include a personal quote, advice for living, or what has been most important to them. Again, there is no downside!
In essence, it’s about sharing love and giving meaning to those in your community! It is often said that it takes a village. You and I are part of that village. When either of us is missing, the “village” is incomplete.
As an elder in your village, now is the time to be in action to create a new reality. Who can you connect with? Who can you invite for dinner? Who can you play cards or dominoes with? What can you do to support other others in your village? By doing so, you’re strengthening the village, and it becomes a double win; you also gain purpose and more significant meaning in your life.
By supporting elders, at the very least, you will be offering a friendly voice and easing the possibility of loneliness. And, there is always the likelihood of a new friend!
There Are Elders In Every Community
As an elder, awaken to the fullness of what life has to offer and open the door to greater vitality. Aside from age, retirement, being active or not, thriving or not, it’s about connection and Caring, Compassion, Forgiveness, and Gratitude for yourself and others! Problems don’t vanish, yet some deep part of us holds these with a wider sense of insight and clarity.
People around you sense your intentions and are often inspired to deepen their own lives. You make a difference! Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?
Ron Roesler, Whidbey Island, WA
PS: The picture was from a cruise on Puget Sound with our good friend Diana memorializing her loving husband Roger, one of my closest friends. With us are Nick and Judith and my wife, Helene.