“Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.” Mark Twain
How does your age affect the choices you make now? Are you happier at this age? What do you consider the perfect age?
When I first read this quote by Mark Twain, I chuckled. He always makes me laugh, but underneath the humor is often wisdom. I’ll admit that at seventy-five I wouldn’t mind being a bit younger with a body that requires less upkeep and has unlimited energy. On the other hand, at this age it’s easier to let go of irritations and live more in the moment.
Most of all, I’m glad I’m not approaching eighteen. I was extremely limited at that time in terms of dealing with life’s changes and disappointments. I had more illness because I didn’t know about my food intolerances. At nineteen I lost the boyfriend I thought I would marry after college. But I did have a lot of fun: being in plays, singing, going to parties. It’s just that I didn’t have the maturity to always make good choices.
Regardless of whether we are eighty or eighteen, our lives now are full of challenges we could never have dreamed and we have no way of knowing if life will return to “normal.” In this situation we need some of age’s wisdom as well as the optimism of youth.
Age Teaches Us How To Deal With Change
Life continues no matter how much we may try to stop the change. But when we’ve been around quite a few years, we’ve learned what we can change and what we can’t and how much time it is reasonable to take in order to make a change.
As we grow, hopefully, we learn how to deal more positively with the difficulties of the emotional stress that change may create. With years of regular meditation behind me, I’ve learned that when I get emotionally upset, it is best to take a few deep breaths and that calms me. Walking briskly also works off the adrenal response and strengthens my body at the same time.
After the initial response, I sit quietly and think about what I need to do, if anything. How can I solve this problem? Can it be solved or do I need to just accept it? Does solving the problem involve other persons? If so, how can I calmly and positively approach them so that they will want the help? If it can’t be solved, how do I live with it?
Failure Is Not Always Negative
How we deal with a problem is not only related to what it is, but also how we feel about ourselves. If we were not given positive messages about our worth as a child, we may question our abilities as an adult. In this case, it is important that we get the help we need to heal those wounds so that we see ourselves as good and capable people. If we trust our abilities, we won’t push problems aside or expect someone else to solve them for us.
Hopefully long before we head toward eighty, we have healed any lack of self-worth and learned to accept who we are, not judging ourselves for what we perceive as our failures. We all experience failures. Sometimes those failures are positive in the sense that they send us down a different path of learning. Failure may also allow us to explore an aspect of life that we would never have consciously chosen but which presents us with opportunities for growth.
One twist of fate in my life began when my family moved to Tulsa when I was about thirteen. I was not happy at all about leaving my friends. But there in high school, modern dance was part of the physical education curriculum. Taking that class, I began to develop muscles and feel physically strong for the first time in my life. I loved it so much that modern dance became a part of my life for many years. It helped improve my physical health and developed my creativity.
Valuable Aspects of Aging
What I like most about approaching eighty is that I no longer feel driven to accomplish anything. I write because I love to do it, not because I’m driven to become a famous writer. I enjoy sharing my ideas with others and especially like it when my blog followers make comments letting me know how my words touched them.
I’m more able to accept my failures or the areas where I lack talent such as my limited cooking skills. I used to be a perfectionist. Although that aspect of my personality rears its head from time to time, I don’t feel a slave to it. I do the best I can and forgive myself for what I lack. Growing older has brought me more peace, which is truly a gift, even though I’ll never be eighteen again.
© 2020 Georganne Spruce
Thanks, Georganne — I needed this. Very inspiring…
I like this piece, especially at the end about “forgiving ourselves”. I think acceptance of self takes a long time and aging helps put things in perspective!