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Peaceful Reflections on Aging…

Peaceful Reflections on Aging…

“…The sixth age shifts 
into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
 his youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
 for his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
 turning again toward childish treble, pipes
 and whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history,
 is second childishness and mere oblivion;
 sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

As You Like It, Jacques (Act II, Scene VII, lines 139-166)

Yes, for most of us, Shakespeare’s later ages will bring physical decline, but it can also be a stretch of immense joy and happiness; a period of calm and peaceful meditation on a life well lived. Life’s Act III should be a time where Walter Mitty isn’t restless from the angst that comes from living a would-be life of fantasy and vicarious joy, but, instead, enjoys the serene rest that comes from inhaling a life of active living.

Or, perhaps a better way of looking at it is to consider the quality of the dash (-) that separates the date of your birth from the date of your death. The date of your birth is fixed and beyond your control. You are here, so open your eyes to all of it, the good, the bad and the truly ugly. The other date, your death, is inevitable and is simply a matter for the stonemason.

As they did about so many things, Joseph Campbell and Viktor Frankel spoke eloquently and passionately about the art of living — the dash. When asked, “What is the meaning of life?” Campbell would say, “There is no meaning of life. We bring the meaning to life.” He agreed with Viktor Frankel’s philosophy that sustained wellbeing (success, happiness) ensues from the honorable and enjoyable pursuit of meaningful goals.

Beyond the physical, the anxiety of aging often spews from a gunnysack of wouldas, couldas and shouldas—a life of regrets. To those who have danced until their feet throb with joy, the quiet of old age is paradise. As Carl Jung once said:

“An old man who cannot bear farewell to life appears as feeble and sickly as a young man who is unable to embrace it.”

And, again, from Joseph Campbell:

“Eternity is that dimension of here and now that all thinking in temporal terms cuts off. And if you don’t get it here, you won’t get it anywhere.”

– Joseph Campbell

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Constance J Doyle #

    It comes down to how are you going to spend your dash!

    July 19, 2012
    • Very good…that’s exactly what it is all about.

      July 19, 2012

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