Reflections on Turning Sixty-six

December 5, 2010

I wake up each morning and I smile

24-brand new hours are before me

I vow to live fully in each moment

And look on all beings with eyes of compassion

Thich Nhat Hanh

Waking up on your sixty-sixth birthday is a time for reflection. No longer can I pretend I am closer to sixty than seventy and as a friend of mine observed on Friday, at our age there is a definitive sense that the journey will end sometime. Of course it is not given to us to know the day and the hour, it could be another thirty years or as I was recently reminded when a close friend died unexpectedly at sixty, it could be tomorrow. This aging stuff is fascinating; there are the overt signs that look back at you from the mirror; the body has lost some strength; there are the morning aches and pains that soon dissipate as the joints get moving; there is the challenge of actually remembering what you went upstairs to get and there is the occasionally worry that a pain in the calf is a sign of an embolism and certain death. Yet there are many compensating benefits: financial well-being, extended leisure time, accumulated wisdom, deepened relationships and of course the government depositing money into my account each week. The strangest parts about aging are the parts that don’t seem to age. We seem to carry all the ages we have ever experienced. I still can feel like a child, view an attractive woman through teenage eyes, get embarrassed, become stubborn in the face of authority – all traits I associate with earlier years and inside I don’t feel any older which can be outright confusing at times. I notice there is an increased attractiveness I perceive in younger people, perhaps a yearning for that which has passed yet I do not regret where I am, I have no desire to relive my life from an earlier point once again, (unless I could take back all the consciousness, wisdom and experience that I now have.) Even then there are many times, place and experiences I have no desire to revisit. I feel incredibly gifted to have this particular life. I have so much to be grateful for that I can only attribute “grace” to be the reason that I have been given such a meaningful, fulfilled, amazing life after such a rocky start. I am reminded of the four commitments that I now make each morning when I meditate:

1) To empower others by offering a means to their greater well-being.

2) To shine my light.

3) To live a soul directed life guided by synchronicity and serendipity.

4) To open my heart to compassion and love.

As I sit and reflect on these I realize there is a fifth that I would like to add one more:

5) To honour the experiences of my life as guides to both meaning and learning.

I don’t think I have to worry about how long I will live but I would like to sustain these five commitments through the time I have remaining. Thank you to whatever is the sustaining force is behind my life’s unfolding journey, I feel deeply blessed.