November is clarity—in the air and of the heart—because, just for a season, we take a deep breath and let mental dust settle, counting our blessings instead of wishing or working our heads off for them. It’s a season of reflection and of bonfires; a time to rake up the useless; clearing the soul for a period of healthy hibernation.
I can’t help studying women everywhere I go. The grey-haired ones (senior enough to toss the bottle and go natural) remind me that sooner or later I have to grow up. But do I have to grow old?
Like a little old woman holed up in a little old house, it seems to me that I can let piles and piles of mental and emotional stuff come up around me year by year until I am wedged into my corner rocking chair, OR I can consciously sort and clean as I go: keeping what makes me better and tossing what skewers my peace… sours my joy… mutes my optimism… limits my movement…blocks my view…robs my youth.
Isn’t getting old, really, just a series of choices? For instance…
I could easily become increasingly cranky and critical toward people and things, OR I could be more patient and generous than ever.
I could grow cynical and pessimistic about the world and the future, OR I could become hopeful and proactive.
I could shuck the heavy responsibilities I’ve carried all my life, OR I could decide my shoulders and stamina are broader than ever.
I could dwell each morning on the ridgidity in my toes, the pang in my knee, the burning in my back, and the extra pounds round my belly, OR I could get up and move with gratitude and when I look in the mirror, remember how much I loved birthing and raising children.
I could worry all day long about money, work, and retirement, OR I could look deep, reach out, and make a difference in the lives I love.
And I could, if I really wanted to, convince myself that I’d learned enough; that it was time to either coast or brag. But I won’t. I’m not ready yet – and hope never to be ready – to die a slow death by cynicism, by inactivity, by disengaging, by self-pity, by selfishness.
If aging is the accumulation of experience, then maturity must be giving away with love what you once generously received from others.
The choice is obvious. I’m gonna keep on growing… UP, not old.
The secret? Thanks + Giving.