Not enough is said about the benefits of aging. Yes, there are plenty of negative aspects, having to do with diminished physical and mental capacities in many people, but from where I sit now, gratefully, I am pretty darn content. I am finding that with the chaos of the world around us raging daily, there is a complete blessing in having, shall we say, “the wisdom of the ages.” And above all, it’s the gift of knowing myself. I have come to learn what works for me, what doesn’t, and how to help myself alleviate stress, find peace, and enjoy life. Case in point: on October 7th, Hamas attacked Israel. My response? Collect acorns and sing a song about looking for airplanes.
Lest you think I have truly slipped into the negative side of aging, let me put some context around it: I was babysitting my nearly 2-year-old grandson. My focus was on him. And, if you ever want to see how to fully live in the moment, spend time with a toddler. Curiosity is the focus, as life is one grand playground. We were hot in pursuit of more acorns and airplanes when the news came across my phone. And, while being shocked and horrified, I had a choice. I could shift my focus away from the joy of the moment and saturate myself in the news, or I could find another time in the day to become more informed. And, as my grandson is a miniature Radar O’Reilly (dating myself again…), we were hot on finding those airplanes he heard before we could see them. This is what was important in the here and now. This is what was going to give me the peace of mind I’d need when I’d dive in to the disasters in the world later. This was a gift.
I was speaking with a client yesterday who was, understandably, upset about a potential conversation he was going to have with his boss. We talked through the situation and his possible responses. And then I asked him a key question: What do you like to do to relax? It took him a minute to shift his thinking. Finally, he answered, “I like to listen to music.” I could see the shift in his face and body language when he said that. “And so,” I offered, “That is what you need to do. You have no idea what is going to be said and when. You know what you might say in response. And now you need to recharge yourself and relax, or you will not be able to respond in the moment.”
As many of you know, I am a bit of a concert junkie. I go to as many live music events as I can, as well as speaker events and movies. I am beyond grateful to have the ability to do this. And I know it is what is nourishing me, healing me, and giving me the clarity I need to embrace this life. In the past I would have thought my actions a bit over the top – who really needs to go see that many shows? Well, I do! It is an exercise in staying present and a valuable skill that is directly applicable to all aspects of my life. I know what the alternative for me is, and I am choosing what is in my better interest.
Life is not easy these days. There is more than enough in one news day to send you under the covers and not wanting to come out. And yet…. There are acorns to be collected and ants to observe. Life is full of wonder and mystery if you only look around. And if you’re having trouble finding it, ask any 2-year-old.
Wait, was that just a plane?