When I was in my mid-20’s, I met a man who was visiting the community where I lived who told me, “When I turned 30, things just got better. After I turned 40, things kept getting better. Then I turned 50 and things are still getting better.” I adopted that then as my philosophy on aging.
Life, of course, is not without its ups and downs, but I am very solid in my belief that if we set ourselves on a Path of Truth/Love and endeavor live our deepest Heart beliefs and practice daily to cultivate our connection with the deeper parts of ourSelves, then the years will only serve to take us deeper, to make us more real and loving and of better and more meaningful service in the world. How could it be otherwise? “What you practice gets stronger,” observed one of my early teachers, Tom Gillette who now has a studio in Providence, RI, and was a huge influence in my yoga teaching. If we practice and endeavor in a particular direction, even in the (inevitable) moments when it seems that we’re “not getting anywhere” or “it’s useless,” we are still (inevitably) moving in the direction we set out in.
It’s important to add that Tom continued, “So the question then becomes, ‘what am I practicing now?’” If whatever we practice gets stronger, what are we practicing now? And then we have a chance to consider if that’s something we want to be strengthening… or not!
Looking back, 16 was no doubt a momentous birthday since I could then drive (incredibly scary to think how young and dangerous I was to be driving!), as was 18 when I could vote, be drafted (at least I had to register, though fortunately there has not been a draft since I was too young), and buy beer (not other alcohol) for consumption at a business but not for take out. (I was able to do that as they were raising the drinking age to 21. The year younger than me had the right to vote and be killed in a war that they didn’t start but not to drink alcohol… go figure!) After that, there were no really BIG birthdays, meaning particularly meaningful till 50 on Jan. 20. 40 is supposed to be a big one, but didn’t really mean anything to me, but 50, in my mind anyway, seems to carry more “weight” (and maybe that’s what’s meant by “50 is the new 40.”) since (here’s an incomplete list): 1. I am CLEARLY no longer a young man since even AARP sent me info and I’m eligible for a “senior discount” at at least one local store! 2. Even if my 1/2 “good” genes and relatively healthy lifestyle work to my advantage, I am pretty much for sure past (or in a “best-case” scenario, coming up on) the half way mark. 3. I am definitely approaching the “elder” years when I am supposed to have gained some level of wisdom. I think I’m on target for that, but I have great respect for those who are my elder (though some have gotten upset that I called them that before 🙂 especially those who are my elders on the Path. 4. Now I have practiced yoga half of my life. Though I had been a seeker for 3 years before that, I have been committed to this path for half of my life, and that must mean something! (though I’m not totally sure what)
So here’s a few things that I have found valuable in my life, in no particular order:
Committing to and sticking with some kind of daily spiritual practice is totally worth it and awesome!
Other good things I’m glad I do daily are flossing my teeth (and brushing, of course); taking a walk, preferably in the woods (I’m thankful for our dogs “making” me walk with them); hugging and saying something positive about each of my family members at least once; laughing; and eating a lot of sprouts and vegetables.
Pets are easier to live with than people… so have a pet if at all possible 🙂
Playing a musical instrument (or more than one) or singing is fun, relaxing and a good outlet for creativity, as is journaling.
Finding some way to serve that feels right is as important as daily brushing of the teeth. I like to pick up garbage on my walks, is one of my ways.
I feel blessed to do what I love for my livelihood. Living simply is part of what makes that possible.
Tithing is good and important to keep the Flow.
Having (and KEEPING) a sense of humor is crucial to any kind of happy life.
Listening to what others say and think of me is important feedback (AND I don’t have to believe or act on everything they say, NOR do I need to take any feedback personally.)
I’m glad that I know how much I choose to argue with Reality (What Is) and how often I feel the need to try to do “God’s job” for “Her.”
I’m glad that I crack myself up with the crazy things that go through my mind. Before many years of spiritual practice, I only would have been down on myself for it all.
I’m glad to have been “straight edge” (meaning totally “sober”=no intoxicants, but I like referring to it in the way I did during my punk rock years) for the past 16 years, and at different times before that.
As Rumi said, “be with those who help your Being” is sage advice.
It’s quite possible there is more in there, but the hour is late and bed is calling. If more reflections on 50 don’t come out soon, I imagine 60 will have something to add! 🙂