Common to the point of blandness
I was reading yesterday, a book written by a Priest about the NDE experience and the Christian path. I won’t go into the book, but as I was reading it, the reality of my being in the latter part of my life was very strong. It does not matter that I ‘may’ have thirty years to live; which I doubt, but the understanding that it does not make much difference in the long run. When young, twenty or thirty years seemed like more than a lifetime….but now, well no, my experience with the rapidity with which our lives fly by is too real for me now. It is the ‘now’ that grips me, today or twenty years from this moment, will be experienced as ‘now’.
I am getting to the point in my life where much of the time, I actually don’t take things for granted and appreciate the moment and what I have and also what I am capable of doing. I know from working with the elderly and sick, that from one moment to the next, at the turn of a dime, a drastic change can happen, or ones life can be over…..a snap of the fingers and the city comes tumbling down. Being a caregiver makes it almost impossible not to keep these realities before my eyes. For I am not much younger than some of those I take care of.
Youth is a great time of life, and oh how when I was in my 20’s I had everything figured out, or thought I did of course. I had endless years before me, even if I was very aware of our temporal nature. I was strong, now not so much so, my body was free and flowing, now it just hurts much of the time. I tire more easily etc. Common to the point of blandness aging and death…until it is experienced in the first person. Then the developing of patience begins and learning to deal with bodily suffering and limitations, which in fact can over time become somewhat freeing and lead to ever deeper degrees of inner liberty and awareness.
Old age is feared by many. People want to be young forever, and great expense is done to seek to accomplish that. Some do for a time, but again, the rapidity of time makes much of this absurd and perhaps a waste of time, if it in fact has an adverse affect on ones life and relationships. Also if it keeps the development of an inner life from growing, then I believe the consequences can be tragic. The inner life is often underrated or ignored, but in reality it is what runs the show. The less awareness there is of this truth, the more chaotic and compulsive life seems to become.
We seek meaning, integration and a holistic understanding of life, this can’t happen unless some inner awareness is developed and the inner demons dealt with. I believe Carl Jung was right. Strengths that were needed in the first half of life become detrimental to life, healing and happiness, in the latter part. Aging can be like having some very cold water thrown in ones face…over and over again and this experience will only stop when this reality is embraced gently and with faith. We are here for a short time, with very little control over the world and others, all we have in reality, is to seek to develop our inner life, and for me my relationship with a loving God. Then our relationship with reality will change all of our interactions with others and life in general. Growing old with grace is not an accident, but comes about by many small choices along the way.
Perhaps what causes fear in many, is that no matter how careful one is in life, no matter how deep faith goes, no matter how much patience is developed, the last few years, months or days, can be something other that desired, where all control is lost, memory gone, and we are at the mercy of others. Yet this hard reality is also part of our journey, though I wish it were otherwise. Faith gives some meaning to all of this and hopefully can impart some hope and peace as time speeds up and our final exit from this life fast approaches.