I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post that the older you get, the more learn what “unique” really means. But I think in the whirl of life, we also find out what “rare” means too.
And it becomes a very precious part of life.
My friend sent me a paper card in the mail. It was such a treat! Not a quick “thanks!” on WhatsApp or a little note on Facebook messenger. And to be quite honest, to me, a handwritten note that was stamped and sent is even more impressive than a carefully worded email (emails were SO INSTANT, and nowadays seem to take more time to send than they ever did!)
Having lived for so long, you come to a point where something presents itself to you, and its value is extremely high simply because there is so little of it left in your world. Like a magnificent species that is becoming extinct, we realize that a lot more in life is slowly disappearing. As a result? We find ourselves grasping it and treasuring it.
The other day my friend told me she was going to apply Vaseline between the folds of her very wrinkly, very charming pug.
I wasn’t sure my mind could grasp the cuteness of this activity. OF COURSE pug skin needs extra TLC. Why hadn’t I ever considered this before? I hadn’t. So, I immediately had to share this adorable fact with another friend. (She also exclaimed appropriately, as hoped.)
Which brings me to this: I’m that chipper gal you may overhear enthusiastically exclaiming, “Wow! I learned something new today.” I think I verbalize such instances because it can be easy to believe that we are older, and therefore we pretty much know it all (or at least the important things.) And while that may be true, the world is so rich and complex that most of us have barely scratched the surface of what’s “out there.”
Being older doesn’t take away the privilege to learn; I think this is obvious, but something we can lose sight of. And while learning is not always easy, it can be incredibly satisfying. It’s nice to be reminded that even in “old” age, we can still experience childlike wonder and delight.
The longer I live, the more opportunities I have to find answers to my problems. Plain and simple (I warned in an earlier post that sometimes I will focus on the plain and simple.) It’s part of the joys of aging and can be incredibly satisfying. Especially when it comes to anxiety. I’m sharing my journey as I work, day by day, to be fully victorious over anxiety.
I want to share with you that with each passing day, I get a better understanding for coping with anxiety.
Some days, I make giant leaps of progress. Other days, I take steps back. One thing that has helps me move forward is thankfulness.
I know, it can really sound so cliché: be thankful. I see it all over – on notebooks, mugs, pillows, prints – and since it is “all over”, it’s easy to just gloss over such helpful life advice.
BUT, I have found that taking time to mentally list 10 things I’m thankful for is incredibly therapeutic. First thing in the morning, or last thing at night, it’s like taking a sword in my hand and jabbing anxiety in my mind, and poking it down to a smaller size. Because when I’ve just listed out what I’m thankful for, anxiety can creep my way, but I can fight it with:
Yes, but your colleague baked a muffin for you.
Yes, but the sun is finally shining today, reminding you of amazing past summers.
Yes, but you got a fun note from your friend, proving you are important to someone.
Yes, but that stranger let you go in line ahead of them.
Does my list of 10 solve all my problems? Of course not! But the short burst of 10 positive thoughts really brings a positive presence to my mind. They say you can’t fight fire with fire, but I firmly believe you can fight harmful thoughts with other powerful thoughts. And thankful thoughts? Very powerful.
I was bustling around my kitchen, listening to the sounds of a lawn mower though my open window. (I’m in England where screens are not typical, so when I say open, I mean open.) I thought to myself, “Ah, spring is here…” and kept working away while the sound grew more intense. Still no biggie, as I thought it must be a motorbike… until I saw my giant friend hovering outside my window: the biggest bumble bee I think I’ve seen in my life.
Fears aside, he was a beauty. Instead of the yellow and black stripes, he had a VERY orange fuzzy tail that was quite elegant. But I didn’t need that elegance in my kitchen. I ran as fast as I could and shut the window, leaving a splotch on the pane since my hands were covered in dough. But all was well, right? My little buddy was in his natural habitat.
However, (you knew this was coming…) soon I heard the lawn mower start up again, and it dawned on me that earlier I had opened another window in the side room. I sprung to it and found my little bombus lapidaries (yes, I looked it up) stressed out, angrily buzzing up near my ceiling.
To make a long story short, I was able to carefully capture him and let him out through the window. I used a giant glass and a piece of cardboard. I hope it was not too traumatic, and my method didn’t harm him. Once the adrenaline stopped pumping I felt that tiny rush of triumph.
The amazing thing about aging?
Aging allows us to conquer fears. Probably not all of them, even though I wish I could say differently. But over time, constant exposure to the bees and wasps has lessened my fear and allowed me to gain knowledge. I can react with more confidence than I would have years ago. I would have been terrified of that bee when I was little.
And the same is for you. I think it’s easy to take for granted how we’ve changed through the years, since we can’t see something like “courage” as a physical shape right in front of us. But it’s happening. And sure, it signals aging, but also growth. Growth we should be proud of, even when it’s small in size – like a bumble bee.
My mom-in-law sent me some pictures of my brother-in-law at their local father/daughter dance. He had three charming little dates. As I saw the girls’ beaming faces, I could only think in exclamation points: How sweet! What great memories! Look at that proud Papa!
I saw those snapshots immediately from the perspective of an adult. I didn’t once think of the perspective of the girls, and how they must have been excited to get ready for a fancy night out. Maybe it’s because I don’t have children that I had to “switch gears” to think about the evening from their perspective.
Being older, I’m now walking into a territory of life I didn’t always understand or know. When young, I only saw half of the story: my viewpoint. I could imagine what the adults were thinking. I could absolutely express my opinion of their actions, but I didn’t have their perspective. It was a mystery.
So why is aging amazing?
Just as we turn book pages to understand more of the story, so it is as we face each day of our life. I feel like now we are slowly being given the missing puzzle pieces.
Due to our aging, the other side of the coin is being revealed.
I guess I like knowing the unknown. Questions from my childhood are being answered:
Why did my Grandma behave a certain way?
Why did my teacher respond to me as she did?
Why do older people get excited about “boring” things?
Why did my parents make a particular decision for me?
As a result of these answered questions, I think we have the opportunity to be more understanding people, but we also get to experience life at a greater depth, delve further into its fullness, and become more multifaceted beings.
“For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be.”
― John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things
Creator of Love, Auntie.