Joyful life … joyful aging … a journey of change

“For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest.”   – Hasidic saying

My last entry talked to embracing “change”, seeing it as the catalyst to truly making joyful life decisions.  As I look back across this past month, I wanted to assess my movement in this new direction.  Have I truly “changed” and begun to embrace a new, daily awareness of bringing myself joy?  Have I tuned myself to a new melody … a new song reflecting a fresher day-to-day life?  Am I moving towards someplace new so that the old no longer defines the Me?  Just some of the questions surfacing as I reflect upon and explore answers.

Reflection and non-judgmental assessment … powerful tools for a man traveling his end years and who desires each moment to bring him richness.  A man that now wants to morph into his increasingly mature persona, benefit from wisdom gained on his journey, and walk more peacefully with the natural forces converging on his years.

So, I look back and compare now to then while determining if I resist or embrace the “changing” me.  I am encouraged!  Here are two examples of me being true to my intentions …

  • Wilderness backpacking and hiking – Backpacking and hiking are truly my passion.  Both are softer now, respecting a body aged by time and an active life.  The days where I defined myself by the miles hiked and the weight carried have morphed into a new metric focused on the time spent in settings that evoke a spiritual sense of wellbeing and deep sense of connection with nature.  Instead of working harder, I listen more to the songs sung by nature and the planet.  More often I now embrace kinder approaches to hiking where the need to briefly rest while going uphill is accepted and seen as simply part of my natural cadence, and not seen as weakness or failure. Acceptance of the new “natural cadence” both aligns with my physical reality but also offers joyful satisfaction, intensified by the increased focus on the spiritual qualities of the setting and connection with nature.  Yes, the package is quite different, both inside and outside, but the sense of “fit” is significant, resulting in more joyful play doing something I deeply enjoy.
  • Exercise and conditioning – Exercise, long a measure of my “who I am” now no longer is defined by miles ran or intensity of the training circuit.  The mantra of “no pain, no gain” is replaced by determining how my routines and effort enable me to remain active while years pass.  Yes, my body leaves my workout knowing muscles have worked.  My weight routines remain meaningful while the focus shifts and becomes more subdued and accepting of less weight in favor of less post-routine discomfort or injury.  But it is now more about how good it feels … how consistently engaging in weights and other exercise allows me to remain active and able to fully engage in my outdoor passions as I consciously embrace co-existing with my body as it leans toward stiffness and less flexibility.

More examples exist but I feel confident my new inner song is heard.  Much more change awaits, and I certainly have things I continue to cling to or have yet to define which create conflict between my “now” and my “once was”.  But I now use those moments as a compass pointing me to the places needing my personal work.

And why put effort into understanding and reforming these points?  Because each point of conflict reflects a place in my life where joy is locked out or impaired.  The payoff is great for the work directed at these points helps lead me in my desired direction.  And that exploration is now done with greater tolerance for things I cannot do as I did when a younger man. 

Yes, I sense I still have much work ahead to be more “living in the moment” and at peace with the idea of age and death.  My life has become so wonderfully full and rich, and my health so good that when something arises that might cause a crack in that shell, I can feel the attachment creating fears along with the yearning to understand and not fall victim to the message.  And if time were spent, I am sure other messages would emerge.  It is interesting what is being triggered.  The Universe seems to be opening a door into a room I have not decorated … maybe I should make sure that I take advantage of it … and bathe in the expressions it evokes.

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