OK. There is a lot of negative stuff about getting older. For the most part, it seems the only positive is the “senior discount” and that comes with a down side. Few things hurt more than claiming to be 65 early and not being carded for proof of age.
Still, there are bonuses to being older. Benefits, if you will. The first one is that you have already seen such unbelievable stuff; the news isn’t as upsetting as it used to be. After you’ve been through a couple of end-of-the-world predictions, you tend to take that sort of stuff in stride.
Second, there is death. Not yours, but more popular or richer people than you. Seeing them fall by the wayside, no matter their wealth or apparent vitality, has an invigorating effect on survivorship. “I didn’t make as much money as you, I was never a famous or attractive as you, but I’m alive and you aren’t.”
There are the old jokes about checking the obituary notices before getting out of bed to see if you are listed there. If you aren’t, then get up and start the day. You won again!
There is the pleasure of seeing those you know aging worse than you are. Who goes to a class reunion without the tender hope of seeing how badly the others have aged? “Oh my, she was such a fox. She never gave me the time of day and now she is married to Methuselah.” Or “How could he have been the star quarterback? He can’t even see over his beer belly to his feet.”
We can also get to the point where old issues just aren’t worth the battle any more. It isn’t that we don’t give a damn; it is more like the argument just doesn’t register as worth the aggravation. Let’s say there is a relative you have had a long-standing disagreement with. At a holiday gathering he started in pushing buttons and got very disappointed when you didn’t rise to the bait. When he asked what was wrong you replied, “Well, Bob, I just don’t care as much as I used to about this. You can be as wrong as you want and I don’t I need to fix it.”
Time has a way of slowing down or even standing still for me now. Like when I’m looking for my gloves and coat before going out. It may take 5 minutes to find them or it may take 30; it doesn’t’ matter. While I’m looking, nothing is more important than that immediate task. I’m not going out in the cold without them, so where I am going and what time I need to be there is no longer as important as getting ready to go.
I am, in fact, in the zone, the now of the moment. I am fully engrossed in that minute I am in. Students of Zen struggle for a lifetime to get this, and then achieve it simply by getting older and caring about nothing more than finding their gloves and hat.
Yes, life is slipping by us and our clocks are running out, but for the moment, time is on our side, for we have learned that what matters is what we are doing now. There is plenty of time for that. Even if during our younger years there was never time enough for anything.
So, what are your aging bonuses?
Parting Thought: “Change before you have to.” Jack Welsh