What is aging?
When I observe our most elder people in the community, it is easy to assume they are sort of little shells of a life lived long ago. I see them shuffle or amble slowly at the market, sometimes shaky limbs reaching for the milk, or a hesitant hand pick over a bin of tomatoes. They seem hollow, as if getting to the market and home is about all they can manage.
I often wonder what keeps them going? Looking from the outside it seems impossible that they have anything motivating them to go another day in this complex world. Generally they are suffering aches and pains. Joints that don’t match up exactly and hurt, bones that are rubbing together, feet that lost youthful padding and are painful to walk on. And yet, I see the sweet ones with their pink cardigans, coiffed hair and comfortable shoes looking mindfully at the lettuce.
But with insider knowledge I know they have often led amazing lives. Lives of sacrifice, or huge talents, lives of travel and careers. They have raised families and pets, planted gardens, harvested fruit. And they don’t think they are old. They know their vessel is betraying them, but ‘they’ are not old. Truly the spirit, the ethos, the soul of a person is timeless, tireless, eternally young.
I don’t feel any different than at 16, 28, 36. I still love the beauty and mystery of spring with all it’s potential and wisdom. I still love the magic of Christmas lights. I plant trees as if I will live forever. A new recipe is just as much fun now as when I was 18. And I have the sneaking suspicion that when I am shuffling through the market at a slower pace, I will be just as excited about the late season tomatoes, the first daffodils of spring, and the scent of ripe peaches in late August. I will look like all the other little old people, but I will be me. Just disguised as a time traveler whose vessel has some wear.