I had a professor who one day talked about the theme of aging. She was lecturing to a bunch of kids and one twenty-something (me) about this topic. She started out by saying that youth is wonderful, life is vibrant for the young, without responsibilities and duties and desires left unfulfilled. We were with her. Oh, yeah. We got it.
Then she said “but there’s an upside to growing older, too.” and all the nodding heads stopped so fingers could scratch scalps. We lost her there. Could not think of an upside to aging. She asked. Nobody raised their hand. Not even Miss Smarty Pants. (Who was not ME btw.) Then she did the teacher thing where she calls on individuals but each of her stars shook their heads. Sorry. No clue how there could possibly be an upside to old.
She was pretty old. We felt bad for her about that, even though she wasn’t the nicest teacher at the college. So we sat there with our blank sad-for-her faces and she screamed “WISDOM. With age comes wisdom, yes?” Oh that, okay. Well, we were not going to tell her we already knew all about life, probably more than she did, as we were in the thick of it, but obviously she drew great solace from this wisdom riff.
Flash forward to me, old but still not wise. There’s so much I don’t know and I want to know it all. Because everything is so interesting. Well, okay, not money or politics, but everything else. For example, why are the sunset years called golden? I know from our Michigan shores that when the sun melts over Lake Superior there is a golden effect low in those layers of color.
This is what I’d say about getting older. It’s beautiful like a sunset. Not because of wisdom so much (although when you’ve been through the same shit several dozen times it does become easier to cope) but because it just keeps getting better and better. I’m continually amazed at this fact, but it’s true. You’ll see. Unless wrinkles really freak you out, then maybe not.
I’m 59, but my personal sun is not setting yet, not even close. I feel like I have so much left to do and see and figure out. More students! And poetry! A grandson! Laura Zera! (Laura is a social media friend who I am meeting for lunch in RL while in Seattle seeing baby:) Why not add meeting social media friends in real life to the list? So much fun. And Skype! More books to write. And read. Some of them to Baby J. Music. Love in every form. Many many more sunsets await me.
Also I really like figuring things out. Why am I here? What more will I learn about myself, dharma, and about the world? What will happen tomorrow? Will there be a tomorrow? And if there isn’t … what comes next? Anything? I’m hoping next means learning the secrets to the universe. Isn’t that the real question everyone wants the answer to? Where does infinity end and if it doesn’t how can that be?
I don’t know the answers but I do know that the questions bring a glowing light to golden.