The most important time of life
Getting older is not easy for one by one, aspects of our physical selves are lost that when young, were taken for granted. As we age we are all called upon to find inner reserves that allow us to deal with this slow decline with grace, if not with ease. It is a daily choice to embrace this process that happens in later life.
Culture passes us by (as it should), it changes and we do the best we can to adapt and even enjoy some of the newness of it all. Today however change comes fast. Developments from one decade to the next can be startling if one takes the time to look back the way things were. Now when I watch a movie it can be dated by the use of cell phones, or not. I have found many of the new technologies exciting, but also find that instead of making life easier, they speeds things up, adding to the work load of many and not allowing too much time to simply be by oneself. In my line of work I have to have my cell phone on all of the time in case of an emergency. At night I can shut off my default ringer, but have certain numbers that can reach me at anytime. Or if I want to turn my phone off, I have to alert those who may try to call me. So the connection, even if below conscious thought, is always there. I think this is good, this access, we have just not learned how to use it to actually make life simpler, instead of more burdensome.
Perhaps one of the reasons so many people today are looking for “spirituality” is the need to be able to deal with the times that they have for some solitude. The inner life, the ability to live there, learn from ones inner landscape takes time and effort. It is not easy, perhaps that is one reason that we try to fill our days with one thing after another. I have days when I don’t want to slow down. Don’t always have a clear cut reason, I just don’t want to settle down and be with myself. When I force myself to sit, pray, read, and write, or ponder, I do get a sense of coming home. When I don’t slow down, the experience of life being absurd, empty and shallow only gets deeper and more draining, it seems that my enjoying life is dependent on my inner life, my connection with the infinite. The energy comes from within.
A friend of mine told me that I was obsessed with time. I thought about that and responded: “Time has always been a blur for me and I have even when young had a sense of how short life is. I can’t shake it and I know that I am not alone in this; in fact I think that is one of the most common experiences of all. How we deal with that is another question.”
I no longer think of my future in decades, well I do in perhaps two decades; my dad died at 83. It does at times fill me with fear, at others times with peace, this sense that the end of the road is becoming easier to see. Both experiences are fleeting. Then there are times when I don’t think about it, though that is become rarer. Mortality is not an easy concept to grasp, since our death is experienced. To think about it, as Freud said, is to be an observer. When we die, we don’t observe, we experience. It is popular today for people to say that they don’t fear death; I think that is not true, the survival instinct is the strongest one we have. Life is difficult, very hard for most of us, most likely for all, so in order for us to make it through life we need that instinct to keep us here.
There is a great deal of pleasure in life and when getting older those pleasures change and can become deeply fulfilling. I don’t need much entertainment anymore. I sense a movement of the Infinite drawing me faster and faster to an eternal moment of union and my ability to love others seems to be deepening. I find this wonderful, and perhaps this state of life, difficult as it is, is in actuality the most important one that we have.
Religion and spirituality, for me, go together. No tradition is without it scandals, failures and evils. Yet each one, those that have been around for a long time also has deep wisdom and an avenue to experiences grace at a deep level. It is up to each to study and seek the truth, to not do so I believe is a tragedy. For we do have a Spirit, and it needs to mature in understanding of its mission in life and why it is here in the first place, though there will always be mystery, an unending search. The search is part of the journey, or perhaps the journey itself this searching for meaning and answers. Many think that the spiritual and religious life is an escape from reality; I believe the opposite is true. The constant racing around, the fear of being quiet, the denial of the reality that we do have souls, is for me the escape from reality and perhaps, maybe, missing the central reason for our lives.