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BEING WITH MY AGING

It is a poignant time of year and a poignant time of life.

Aging can give us an opportunity to be aware of what we may have previously taken for granted. Aging can give us an opportunity to be more of a human being than a human doing. For me, the recent holiday season highlighted relationships, helped make me more aware of the possibility of connection and allowed me to just be with my aging.

In December, I found myself sitting at the fireplace with one of my daughters, in the glow of the flame and the nearby tree ornaments. The light was soft and shimmery around the edges. In that quiet time, I was reflecting on my recent holiday road trip with my wife and daughter. Driving over 6 days and through 5 cities, we visited family and friends, siblings and niblings and contemporaries. (I just learned the word niblings, a gender-neutral reference to nieces and nephews) We took meticulous Covid precautions with each new grouping, each step of the way.

Within each group of family and friends, I felt and appreciated the years I’ve known them, the changes we’ve been through and the dependability, if not the consistency, of our relationship. Seeing several of them for the first time in years, physical changes were immediately apparent. Various non-physical changes became evident as well. I soaked up the changes and was just being with our aging, not judging. Observing friends and family, as well as myself, as we are aging makes me smile. Often an appreciative, sparkling smile, sometimes a knowing, poignant smile, but a smile nonetheless. I experience aging as an expected and important part of life. Not often able to completely embrace it, I can at least get past the fear and denial.

During the road trip, I noticed I was usually the numerically oldest person in the room. As I am aging, I haven’t thought of myself very differently, no matter what number years I’ve been alive. Indeed, our collective idea of what old means seems to keep shifting as we keep aging. I was brought up to ‘respect my elders’, to respect the people in the room who appear to be the oldest. If my role in the room is indeed changing, I really haven’t done anything to deserve it, except to just keep breathing.

Along with being more tuned into relationships this holiday season, my road trip highlighted stiffness in my body, my difficulty bending over, indeed, my mortality. During a driving break, sitting in the back seat for hours, browsing my cell phone, I came across a picture that I took January 3, 2020. That was about one-month pre-covid, back when I worked out daily at the local fitness center, back when I travelled around the country a bit. As I snapped that picture, I had no idea of how things were about to change.

Every day, we have no idea of how things are about to change. We make assumptions based upon the appearance of things and how things used to be. This past holiday season, I wasn’t ‘acting my age’, I was being with my aging. I glimpsed that my aging is both wholeness and brokenness, both opportunity and loss. It is a poignant and unfolding re-balancing. Those of us in our third third of life have an opportunity to re-calibrate, both as an individual and as a responsible member of society, and, in so being, step toward becoming much-needed role models.

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Marc@ATribeCalledAging.com