Life more wonderful, not just less horrible

Jefferson Airplane Album, at Point Pleasant Antiques, 2016. (Photo Copyright ©2016 Steven L. Lubetkin. Used by permission.)

Jefferson Airplane Album, at Point Pleasant Antiques, 2016. (Photo Copyright ©2016 Steven L. Lubetkin. Used by permission.)

A self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living.

Virginia Woolf

Whether we realize it or not, most of us hold the view that in our aging and dying we are trying to make the best of a bad situation. This deeply ingrained view is based upon our current widespread cultural belief that ‘Old Is Bad.’ Please know that this point of view is a self-fulfilling prophecy and it is toxic.

Not just toxic, this is an ageist point of view – prejudice based on one’s older years. Ageism is insidious, both culturally as well as internally in each of us.

A popular saying represents the above world view —“There’s always some bumps in the road of life.”

As I’ve written before, are they really bumps in the road? Actually, the road is just what it is. People-made roads are smooth and straight, but life and death are not people-made roads. They are perfectly imperfect journeys.

We fear and deny the inevitable — our aging and our mortality. As Maria Popova (brainpickings.org) writes, “This may be the most elemental paradox of existence: We yearn for permanence and stability despite a universe of constant change as a way of hedging against the inescapable fact of our mortality, our own individual impermanence. And yet this faulty coping mechanism results not in immortality but in complacency, stagnation, a living death.”

Even in our brokenness we are not broken. All existence, including our aging and dying, is perfectly imperfect.

Herein is the difference between self-compassion and embracing — the difference between feeling ‘broken’ while still loving yourself versus knowing you’re not broken.

This helps us understand that in our aging and dying we are not just trying to make the best of a bad situation but, rather, we are living fully, passionately, appreciatively and imperfectly all the way through to the end.

Frank Ostaseski, author of The Five Invitations, writes, “Death is not waiting for us at the end of a long road. Death is always with us, in the marrow of every passing moment. She is the secret teacher hiding in plain sight. She helps us to discover what matters most.”

At A Tribe Called Aging, our slogan is ‘Life More Wonderful, Not just Less Horrible.’

As the Jefferson Airplane sang over 50 years ago in ‘Crown of Creation’:

“Life is change

How it differs from the rocks…

New worlds to gain

My life is to survive

And be alive…”

About Marc Blesoff
After thirty plus years as a criminal defense attorney, Marc has been facilitating Wise Aging and Conscious Aging Workshops, appreciating the beauty of relationships and learning “that the line I called the horizon does not exist and sky and water, so long apart, are the same state of being.” He attended Bowdoin College, The Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America, and Northwestern University. He is married forty years, and has three children and one grandchild.

1 Comment

  1. I have never held the view you indicate is so widely spread. And I would venture to say, most of the people I know do not. Let’s not confuse the openness to discussions of dying with being broken. In fact my experience, gleaned from several years of writing and research, indicates a very positive change in the willingness to confront the challenges, sadness and health issues of aging with frank discussion and positive action.

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