By Joyce Shafer
“You are old, Father William,” the young man said, “And your hair has become very white; and yet you incessantly stand on your head—do you think, at your age, it is right?” (From the works of Lewis Carroll)
George Berkeley said, “Our youth we can have but today. We may always find time to grow old.”
While out walking, I saw a woman people might call elderly coming towards me. Her appearance was crisp, put together well. As we passed, I said, “You look great!” I heard a delightful sound and turned. She was bent over at the waist, laughing. I won’t share what she said, but I witnessed her energy shift from “senior citizen” to that of a delighted teenage girl.
I hear people make statements about growing old that include various beliefs, especially that we have to expect physical and mental malfunctions. Yet, there are some who defy this “fact,” and it’s not just a matter of genetics. Granted, stuff happens; but how many people actually make a point of doing more of what keeps body, mind, and spirit healthy (younger) than not? We don’t have to be monastic in order to stay in balance. Taoists are proponents of moderation in all things as opposed to complete denial. I agree with them.
It’s inaccurate to say, “This is what happens when you get old.” Accurate is, “This is what may happen when you don’t maintain and detox your body, mind, and spirit on a regular basis.” It’s what happens when you choose to believe it’s what happens. We agree to it. What might happen if we agreed to the opposite?
Being old is not limited to chronology. I know people who act old even in their youth. I tend to relate youthfulness to flexibility. It was said so long ago, I no longer remember who coined the phrase, “Hardening of the Attitudes,” but it’s a good one. Fixed attitudes and beliefs are harmful to our health. It’s like a stagnant pond versus the replenished freshness of a flowing stream.
Our bodies may mature, but we don’t have to become old before our time, or at any time on an inner level. We age more quickly when we don’t take care of our bodies, when we don’t detox on a regular basis, when we resist change which is inevitable. Living a rigid or fear-based life ages us as fast as an overly-toxic body.
Within each of us is a quality of youthfulness if we only allow it to express itself. We can still be responsible adults as we continue to learn and grow, and deliberately have fun with our lives. What we perceive as negative, happens. We can focus on the negative and grow old long before we should or we can rejuvenate ourselves if we agree to see a gift in the moments of our lives and opt to be as fluid as possible in how we relate to them.
Rigid or flexible, the choice is ours. Whatever we choose shows in our faces, bodies, and our lives. No surgery, medicine, or expensive cream can change this.
You can choose to put your best face forward (and even stand on your head!).