midwestbuddha: (seasoned)
[personal profile] midwestbuddha
Rather than live under the delusion of permanence, we should engage in spiritual training so that we can enter old age at least with the grace of wisdom.

-- the Dalai Lama

Indeed. Now that I have reached middle age I find that I am more aware that all things end. I don’t dwell on my own death, but I do feel the passing of the years, in my body and my attitudes. And I sometimes wonder what lies further down the road. But I’ve also developed an affectionate compassion for the people I see in their twenties and thirties who are always in some emotional crises or other—I was there once, and am glad to be past that stage of life.

I sense now that younger friends sometimes view me as someone they must be ultra polite with, instead of truthful. I’m surprised they think I can’t see right through this attitude. And although I appreciate the attempt to be kind, it still startles me when I realize they see me as significantly older than they are. Inside, I am still the same person—still full of vibrant and energetic ideas, absurdities and youthful dreams. But outside, there’s no doubt, I look somewhat different than I did thirty years ago. I don’t recover as quickly when I’m injured or ill, and I’m no longer up to date on the latest news, fads and popular celebrities.

Time has passed, and a fair number of years have left their mark on me.

However, the news is still good—great, in fact. In her ground-breaking book Sex and The Seasoned Woman, Pursuing The Passionate Life, journalist Gail Sheehy reveals research showing that women from their forties to nineties are enjoying the best years of their lives, often have new partners and are realizing dreams they had no time for in their twenties and thirties. Likewise, Dr. Christiane Northrup, noted physician for more than twenty-five years, says in her talk Menopause and Beyond, that the longevity for men is increasing as well—and that the men who live longest now are those in relationships with good women.

A friend recently asked if I could live in any period of time what I would choose. I told him, “The future.” In general, even with all its faults and foibles, I still tend to believe that mankind has a glorious potential and I wish I could stay in this lifetime long enough to see it.

Dr. Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist and co-founder of string field theory, has categorized Earth as a “Type Zero” civilization on a scale of Zero to Three because of our present technological advancement. But he also says that calculations show we will reach “Type One” in about one hundred more years, and that right now is the most important era in the human race—this transition from “Type Zero” to “Type One”. That’s because our challenge is to advance to being able to control all of our planetary resources properly, without destroying ourselves.

Nassim Haramein is a physicist that is doing some ground breaking work. In his film Black Whole, The Universe Is One, he suggests that the atoms in our body are actually mini black holes! If Haramein and other scientists can find the key to unlock physical degeneration through his work, it’s likely that humans will live even longer than they are now.

In view of the fact that people will most likely live longer in a brighter future, we have been gifted with the idea of having more time available to learn and grow. This is seductive, in the sense that we can become complacent with our spiritual progress. However, it’s still helpful to consider what Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron suggests:

Since death is certain, but the time of death is uncertain, what’s the most important thing I should do right now?

In my experience, old people trying to get into Heaven are all over the place. So I’m not implying that we suddenly all become do-gooders in fear of our salvation as we age. But it is a perfect time to evaluate which areas of life we still want to improve upon—relationships, goals and dreams, helping our community and contributing to our world.

We still have time—and lots of it, in most cases. By mid-life we almost always also have wisdom and resources to accomplish the things we set out to do. Above all, don’t succumb to the idea that getting older means you can’t. Maybe you have to go more slowly, take a considered approach.

But believe me, you most definitely can—as long as you come from a place of spirit, you will be surprised at how much you can accomplish.

As Queen Cleopatra herself once wrote, Make It Happen!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-19 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ba1126.livejournal.com
Very nice post, and I know just what you're saying, I think. As I tell my kids "Inside, I'm still 24." Your 'age' is just a number, it's your attitude (still learning, still trying new things, willing to learn new ways, etc.) that determines whether you are 'young' or 'old'.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-20 06:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] crimsonriver.livejournal.com
I am "only" 28, but i can already relate to what you said about younger people treating you differently. I've felt it and it is a strange feeling. I feel very detached from my age.


Date: 2011-11-23 03:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trekwriter.livejournal.com
And you've been through a lot, so your maturity beyond your physical age is evident. ;)

I think more than anything else...

Date: 2011-11-23 03:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trekwriter.livejournal.com
...I'm just so SURPRISED when there's some indication of my age from someone else. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-25 09:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] songindarkness.livejournal.com
Stalked you over from trekwriter... this is so interesting! It's very insightful. I really wish I could discover that "place of spirit" you talk about... it's not easy for me.


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