My second wind is on it’s way. This mind is reshuffling after reading Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life by Dr. Bill Thomas. The book starts with the history of how we ended up as a culture leading such frenzied lives — starting with the Baby Boom generation — and goes on to extol the virtues of what he calls “elderhood”. He convinced me, especially with this passage, “We live in an ageist society and we are inundated by propaganda that insists aging, like smallpox, will be eliminated in our lifetimes.”
The losses we all have to live through are highlighted in my book Emerging from the Heartache of Loss, but what I referred to as one of our most common losses — youth — should really be an asset instead. It’s hard to imagine when you’re younger, but the changes that aging brings make life better in many ways. Sure, more wrinkles, but also more wisdom, better judgement, and a seasoned perspective.
When I think about it, the only thing that’s changed is my body. My perspective on most everything else is better and healthier than when I was younger. In this way, losing my youth isn’t a loss to contend with, but something I should be honoring.
In the youth culture we live in, we’re coerced into focusing on what aspects we’ve lost as we age. But celebrating what’s to come is a much better use of my time than looking back on what lots of people think of as better than now. I frequently hear conversations about how it used to be and, frankly, I’m weary of listening to the whining about those good old days. Being stuck there wastes the present, as if life is over because you hit a certain age.
I’ve thought about it a lot since reading this book, and concluded that now I am smarter, more patient and a better listener than ever. Ironically, also stronger. I was too occupied with work, family and home when I was younger to give my health any thought. But age gave me more time to exercise, eat better, and to think more about what the heck I was doing.
Like lots of people over 50, I’ve struggled with this aging process for some time. But I’m feeling better about it lately. Being surrounded by “how to look younger” messages all the time is pissing me off. It has secretly skewed our thinking and made us all feel like our valuable years are over. From Second Wind, “The freedom to embrace a slow life that permits this kind of reflection is one of the most important gifts elderhood has to offer.” Hear hear.
I’m going to dance class tonight. Perhaps I shall skip the mascara… or not.