The Great Good of Getting Older

When I look back at all the mistakes, wasted time, and downright dumb things I have done in my life, I wonder what the heck I was thinking of to be so foolish. It’s taken me years to stop dwelling on these things; my mantra for that is “that was then, and I am not that person any more.” So much of my foolishness was that I was young and didn’t realize the ‘down the road’ effect these things would have on me and others. But that’s part of being young.

There were times when I took unbelievably stupid risks with my life and my health. I have been more lucky than I might have–it’s taken me years to get the message that perhaps I was directed from serious harm because I have a purpose in being here. Oh, I doubt I will write The Great American Novel and be acclaimed by millions. I probably will not save children from a burning building, nor will I dive off a bridge to save someone’s life (I hate heights). Most likely I won’t develop a cure for cancer (how could I? I’m too busy writing!), or initiate world peace on my own.

I am one of those people who does microscopic good when I can. If I know that someone is suffering, has lost someone, is in pain, etc., I send them love and healing energy as well as prayer. I do this with the intention of initiating comfort, calm and healing; where intention goes, energy follows.

We’ve all heard that a butterfly, lazily fluttering its wings in one part of the world, can potentially cause a tsunami in another part of the world, if the conditions are right. If that’s true, than why can’t a simple prayer or thought, sent with good intent and love to another, be its own instrument of peace?

The older I get, the more I see how much time I have wasted in being angry, argumentative, ornery, stubborn, or, as we say in my family, downright *pisserdly. Why waste energy in feeling bad or combative over something as trivial as someone cutting us off in traffic? (Although I will still fall for it if I’m in the right mood.) As I get older, I realize that I don’t like feeling riled up or angry as much as I used to; this is why I can only stand about 5-10 minutes of the news. While I do want to know what’s going on, I don’t want to get all cranked up over something over which I can do nothing.

So these days, at nearly 64 years old (where does the time go? I swear I was only 10 yesterday!), I feel more and more that my purpose for being here at this time is to be kind, to be comforting, and simply to listen. I’m finally getting to where I can concentrate better on listening rather than impatiently waiting for the other person to shut up already so that I can spill my self-perceived pearls of wisdom. I may never reach my goal of being able to always listen first and talk later. But I realize now that my goal is to write more, listen more and talk less. I’m going to be working on that for a long time!

There are many people on this earth who are and will be doing great things to benefit all people. Some will be remembered for years for their good work and how their work changed the world. There are also many people on this earth who are just up to no good, and will try to destroy all that is good and beautiful. And then there are, as my late mother-in-law, Hazel, used to say, a “gracious plenty” who are on this earth simply to be kind and to help keep back the darkness.

That’s finally what I’ve come to believe that getting older is for–to help keep the lights on.

*Our collective word that encompasses being angry, having to have one’s own way, and being argumentative, stubborn, pig-headed, ornery, etc.


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