Does age matter?

For the past several months, self-pity shrouded my thoughts, convincing me that age did matter. It mattered a lot, and the clock for me was running out of time.

I questioned whether starting new writing projects, learning to play the ukelele, stepping out into new adventures were pursuits worth the effort. Everyone seemed younger, and I, well, “Was there time to achieve any of these activities?”

This line of thinking exposed several problems. First, I’m not a negative person. If anything, I am idealistic and hopelessly optimistic, even in the direst of circumstances.

The next issue relates to a well-worn habit of needing to achieve to believe in my own self-worth. I’ll leave that discussion for another day. But, I am learning to let go of perfectionism and embrace a love of imperfect things, namely me.

I thought I was too old until…

I thought about my sister, who, at 32, never gave up trying to escape domestic violence. She fought until the end.

I thought I was too old until…

I remembered the fervent desire of my brother to become a deacon in his church. He left behind the books he studied and the sons who loved him at 46.

I thought I was too old until…

I opened the birthday card from my granddaughter as I turned 72. She wrote:

You have taught me so much throughout my life…You’ve given me so many memories…I am so grateful to have your guidance through all these new and exciting changes in my life.

A freshman in college, Emily gave me the gift I needed most this year. Her words held a truth and hope.

The truth is that we never know the number of our days. Make every one count.

My hope lies in living with purpose, kindness, and gratitude.

What’s ahead?

The clock does not frighten or intimidate me, and I will not linger in the shadows silently fading in the background. Living just short of her 100th birthday, my grandmother blessed me with genes that included good health, inner strength, and longevity.

While pondering these heavy thoughts, I recalled some sound advice from a dancer, writer, and the Japanese.

With the time you’ve got, choose to make your life bigger. Opt for expression over observation, action instead of passivity, risk over safety, the unknown over the familiar. Be deliberate, act with intention. Chase the sublime and the absurd. Make each day one where you emerge, unlock, excite, and discover. Find new, reconsider old, become limber, stretch, lean, move … I say this with love: shut up and dance.

—Twyla Tharp

Choreographer Twyla Tharp believes in vitality, “moving through life with energy and vigor, making deliberate choices and putting to good use the time and energy that we have been granted.”

I’m choosing to dance.

When I first read Dawna Markova’s I Will Not Die An Unlived Life, I committed to wholeheartedness and living life with purpose and intention. I thought I had mastered this approach, but I discovered more lessons to learn and share.

Each of us is here to give something that only we can offer. When we avoid knowing ourselves, we end up living numb, passionless lives, disconnected from our soul’s true purpose But when you have the courage to shape your life from the essence of who you are, you ignite, becoming truly alive. This requires letting go of everything that is inauthentic.

—Dawna Markova

Héctor García and Francesc Miralles explored the commonalities in the longevity of people in what scientists refer to as Blue Zones across the world, including the older inhabitants of the island of Okinawa, Japan.

In addition to friendships, and healthy eating, ikigai contributed to their zest for living. The Japanese word ikigai combines “iki,” life, and gai, “to be worthwhile.” Your ikigai, or “reason we get up in the morning,” becomes one of the secrets of a long and happy life. At least, these centenarians living in Okinawa exemplify how living with passion and purpose can impact the quality of your years.

Life is not a problem to be solved. Just remember to have something that keeps you busy doing what you love while being surrounded by the people who love you.

—Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

I thought I was too old until…

I set my eyes towards what’s possible. My experiences, the journey I’ve travelled continues to shape and expand the life I live today. Don’t give up if you are still in your thirties or forties and feel like it’s too late. You may just be getting started.

You may find yourself sliding into your sixties or seventies and believe that the best has passed. Again, you may be on the verge of the most exciting and memorable years. The best could be yet to come.

As for me, I’ve decided age matters, but how it matters depends on my outlook, not the years I’ve accumulated.

I’ll leave you with these wise words from Emily Dickenson.

“We turn not older with years, but newer every day.”

And always—

Be kind. Be brave. Be you.

Photo: Kathryn LeRoy, Mainz, Germany