My dears, I feel like reflecting on how grief and growth may—as I’m discovering—meet in our lives. So I’ll hit you right up front with what feels deeply personal to me.
Since my mother had some awful surgery just before Hurricane Michael pounded my parents’ house and town, then she declined and died three months later, I’ve been immersing myself in research on dying, death, and “life after.” If you know me, you know this is very different for me.
Though I do have a memory of myself sprawled on my pink bedspread, 13 years old, writing a piece on the logic of the immortal soul. No one had assigned it to me, and no one was waiting to read it. But it was important to me, because eternal life was a clear and vibrant truth to me. But that was then.
Ah, happiness. It’s one of life’s age-old holy grails, right?
The truth is, we often seek happiness like distant treasure we’re determined to find. Someday, somewhere, off in the hazy future, where the grass is greener and all our wishes and dreams have been fulfilled, then we’ll “be happy.”
But what do we really need to be happy?
When my oldest son went off to college, I realized that my dream for him was the capacity for happiness. Indeed, as I was letting go of my first little guy who had grown into a fine young man, nothing else I could want for him even came close. The truth is that I learned something about myself that day.
So today, what thoughts do you have as you consider these questions:
On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your capacity for happiness, without conditions? What will it take to move that needle? What, exactly, makes you happy? How can you live your life to fit that truth?
What’s first, the chicken, or the egg?
So what really comes first, my dears? Happiness, or the conditions we think we need to meet to have it? And a bit more truth-telling from me will take us deeper.
Indeed, my dears, are you ready to design your life?
To be an artist is to believe in life. — Henry Moore
These words of wisdom from sculptor Henry Moore made my night. I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationship between creativity and health. About all the ways we creative types have to express ourselves in modern life. All the freedom we have to do so.
Though I’m not saying it’s easy. If so, would it, as Kurt Vonnegut said about practicing any art, make our souls grow?
Are you one of those folks who asks the honest question, Why bother to keep growing? Well, for starters, check out this bit of sung wisdom from Bob Dylan:
He [and she who is] not busy being born is busy dying. — Bob Dylan
In fact, “aging gracefully” is more doable now than ever. The days when young folks had all the fun are over. Days when they had all the freedom. Now it’s totally possible for us to have multiple phases of life that are in fact age-neutral.
Changing the game: from existing to growing
These days, people in their 50s, 60s, 70s, even 80s and 90s are living radically different lives from what was once the norm. And of course many still do act out beliefs that a certain age means it’s time to be tired. Unhealthy. Overweight. Maybe even done with real self-care.
But many, many others are focused on growing, still and always jamming away at their dreams and goals way past the old put ’em out to pasture days. They exercise, eat smart, and practice self-care strategies like examining unhelpful beliefs and exploring an empowering mindset toward truly changing the aging game.