As children, we can’t wait for our birthdays. There will be presents and cake and everyone is celebrating you. How exciting! And we can’t wait to get older, because getting older means we will grow taller and eventually reach the upper cabinets where the cookies are hidden. Every new year gives us more perceived freedoms as we race toward twenty-one. That’s when we begin searching for the brakes. That’s when the fear of aging begins.
Gerascophobia is the fear of aging. Many of us experience this phobia, especially in our twenties when we assume this is the best I’m ever going to look or feel. The age of twenty-nine brings dread to some as they finally say goodbye to their childhood. And turning forty puts other folks into a complete state of depression, mid-life crisis and all. So who are these rare people who proclaim life begins at fifty, or sixty, or seventy for that matter? What is their secret?
People who age gracefully enjoy learning to feel comfortable in their own skin as they awaken to a real sense of self. They welcome the wisdom and maturity that comes with age. They do not have superficial ideas of appearance and accept the lines in their faces as earned stripes. They realize loss is a part of life and helps them to appreciate each person and opportunity as a gift. They understand the ego is their enemy. The ego is always trying to threaten us with negative self talk. It is simply a mask we wear, and underneath the facade the spirit is the true self, forever youthful and bright. Our spirit never ages. Our spirit is always sweet sixteen.
When we were younger, aging meant being able to do more things. We need to maintain that mentality as we enter each new decade. As we age, we should set new goals, try new things, and go places we’ve never been before. Routine, habit, and stagnation should be feared, not aging.
To age is to know yourself better, to understand your purpose on this planet. The body carrying your spirit is simply a rental. It is expected to get a few dents along the journey. But it’s still a beautiful vehicle, like a classic car that others admire with envy. How lucky you are to be the designated driver. The open road is waiting for you. Where do you want to go? What do you wish to learn? Who do you want to meet next?
Life begins now.