Rethinking aging

In our forties and fifties, most of us don’t want to think about aging. The topic makes us squirm. Aging happens to other people, not to us. Not yet anyway. There will be plenty of time to think about it—later.

The women I interviewed for Warm Cup of Wisdom are in their seventies and eighties, and they’ve had to come face to face with the topic—after denying it themselves for many years. The question I asked them was:

“What have you learned, from your own experience and that of your friends, about the best frame of mind for facing aging?”

Their nuggets of wisdom surprised me. Here are a few:

  1. “I love this time of life because it’s a very freeing time. We can be more who we are than we have been.”
  2. “I’m convinced that living a long life enhances and enriches us.”
  3. “I think it helps to face aging with a sense of humor.”
  4. “Here’s what I learned from trying to help my mother move out of her house: Don’t wait till you’re ninety. You’ve got to act before the crisis happens.”
  5. “Being in denial is such a comfy place. But the ramifications of being in denial can be hard. If you insist on remaining independent too long, you may end up having no choices at all.”
  6. “I am more aware of the need to be accepting of people whose ideas and reactions may be different than mine. I’ve found it helpful to wait and listen more during interactions with other people.”
  7. “One of my goals for my eighties is to be more aware of the present. I try to be aware of my own body and my limitations and of what’s going on with family and with friends who are going through rough times, too.”
  8. “There are important questions you have to answer in your years after retirement. ‘Does my life have meaning?’ and ‘What’s the source of my hope?’ My own response is receptivity and gratitude.”

A very freeing time. The need to be accepting. Humor. Awareness of the present. Receptivity and gratitude. Their comments gave me a lot to ponder.

My favorite comment was this one:

“As long as I’m feeling good and as long as my mind is working, I think this age is good, very good. To be alive; it’s sheer luck.”

About dorijonesyang

As a former journalist in Hong Kong, I love writing books that bridge the gap of understanding between China and America. My new book, When the Red Gates Opened: A Memoir of China's Reawakening, will be published in September 2020.
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