I was reading from a book by Lama Surya Das called “Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be.” It seems like a good topic for Baby Boomer reading as some of us contemplate how to do this stage of life smashingly well. “Boomers” have always wanted to do all the stages of life smashingly well.
There has to be a way to transform this period of life into something far better than just trying to hold on to the past and the persons we used to be. When my mother-in-law was in her last year of life at age 95, we had a certificate framed for her assisted living apartment that honored her as a graduate of distinction in the field of mathematics from the college she had attended. She was not strong enough to make the trip to New York for the award, so the school sent a certificate instead.
I was always glad it was there as aides who had no idea of who she had been came in and counted out her meds for her. She once told me she had asked the med tech if she ever worked crossword puzzles, and the tech had said she had not. My mother-in-law told me that she had told her that she completed one a day, as if to say that her mind was still working pretty well, even if she needed some help in remembering!
Sadly, in our society those who are older sometimes feel nearly invisible. Being loved and respected not only for what we have done but also for who we are yet becoming in this sacred time of life makes the holding on not so important. The experience of true joy and freedom can be the surprising gift when all time becomes simply being in the present moment. The reward for loving caregivers for the aging is learning this wisdom early in their own lives.
Lama Surya Das writes, “ Mindlessly and rigidly holding on to anything exacts a heavy price. Think about how much energy and attention we have invested in maintaining and holding together our own self-image and persona. What a relief it is when we let down our guard and allow ourselves to be authentic and real. When we stop holding on, it’s a little like taking off our shoes and allowing ourselves to relax. It’s like taking a breather in the midst of hard work. It feels very good.”
This is the first in a series on living the latter chapters of our lives.