When I passed the 50-year mark, I saw a critical decision on the horizon, waiting for me: How would I live as I grew older? Of course, that big question begged for specifics prompted by more questions: Would I contract and pull back? Would I give in to the effects of age and the personal losses that might accompany it? It didn’t take long for me to grasp my truth – as I approached my later years, I didn’t want to live like a mouse, scuttling away from the vibrancy of life, maladapted to a furtive, but “safe” existence. Making my spirit or my life smallerwas not what I wanted to experience, and it certainly wasn’t aligned with my idea of living a good life. I hold fast to the belief that everyone of us can live a good life well into our twilight years.
For me, “livin’ large” or that “good life” is first, foremost, and always about my spirit. I know it is easy to get bogged down in the changes and challenges – large and small – that accompany our later decades. How often have I heard someone lament “Every day, something new crops up!” Believe me, I get it. When I find myself going there, I course-correct because that thought pattern is a lane to nowhere and no way to experience any “twilight.” It is also when I reach for my litany of blessings – so many blessings, no?
And it’s a funny thing because at the top of my list is seeing the beauty in the everyday, EVERY DAY. It’s staying open to spontaneous moments of unexpected joy. With an open heart, those moments are impossible to miss. Just the other day, while on my walk, my eye was drawn to a handwritten sign on a telephone pole. It read, “May your coffee be strong and your Mondays be short.” Whoever went to the effort to send this message out to the universe, or to a commuting, back-in-the-office parent, added a drawing of a steaming cup of coffee and a tall office building. It was impossible to miss the goodwill, the love tacked on that pole! It warmed my heart and brought a huge smile to my face as I wondered about the thoughtful child behind that kind sentiment. I hope they never lose that quality, just as I doubt I will lose the joy and the sense of wonder I felt when I read those words. No, I know that I won’t because I will hold fast to it. Will keep the process of aging in perspective. Will stay committed to my version of “livin’ large.”
What’s your idea of “livin large” by living a good life? It’s none of my business, but I hope with all of my heart that you make it yours. Yes, staying healthy, connected to others, and financially sound are extremely important in this equation because they are solid building blocks, but there is so much more to this. Take the next step by asking yourself, What am I staying committed to so that my spirit, my inner spark stays alive and burns brightly? When your answer speaks to you with the assuredness of truth, hold onto it with all of your might, take a deep breath, and trust what happens next.