Growing Old

Watching friends and family members grow old has been perplexing. I tend to always think of myself and others as lively and young, but then reminders that we're aging pop up when we hear of a friend's illness, see a relative pass or find our own calendars filled with a myriad of doctor's appointments.

How does one grow old?

Just this month I've heard two stories of aging people who are angry and disgruntled all the time. That, to me, is not a good way to grow old, but I don't stand in their shoes and have no idea what makes them so unhappy. Then there's my mom who is tenacious about staying positive and living life--I wrote a post about her will to live well last year.

Many of us, like me, would like to live forever. I have no will to leave this world anytime soon as I can see limitless opportunity for adventure, exploration, relationship and fun. I am very curious about all the inner and outer workings of the world and marvel at the extraordinary ideas exchanged and problems to solve daily. I find the human condition to be an area of extreme interest and I love the problem of working to give everyone a good life which is not to say a life without problems, but a life of promise, potential and possibility instead.

Yet, as I think of getting old, I realize I have to have a plan--a model to follow. I don't want to become crotchety and I don't want to meet my end with lots of regret. Instead I want to stay true to who I am, continue to contribute in the ways that I can, and as much as possible develop love, compassion, empathy, patience and care for all those in my midst. If I stand at my end knowing I've done the best I could do with what I had and what I could understand, I'll be happy.

So what will this path look like, this path of an aging individual.

First, it will be a path where I give what I can to those I love. I hope to give support, kindness and care in ways that I'm able.

Next, I hope to do my work as an educator well. I hope to support colleagues, students and families in ways that I can to strengthen their outlook, skills and abilities with their individual and collective paths in mind. Similarly I look forward to working with and learning from all the members of my learning community: students, families, educators, administrators and community members. I will advocate for good systems and processes to elevate the types of positive exchanges, development and impact I know is possible in such a dedicated and well-supported system.

After that I want to enjoy the world I live in. I marvel everyday at the vast beauty and variation that exists. It's amazing to really look at nature and see the patterns, colors, and interconnections that are everywhere. I love the stories of people including how they met, what they love, where they live and their dreams and hopes.

Further I want to continue to write as a way of looking for answers with good questions, sharing amazing research and insights, challenging/debating ideas, thinking out of the box and describing the world I see and live in today. I truly enjoy writing and find that I am a conduit for ideas that come from both within and around me--it's a pleasure to sit and write, a gift I'm grateful for.

As I grow old I will continue to simplify my surroundings so that I have what's most important. I'll deepen my craft and skill so that I can reach my goals above and I'll recognize that life will continue to throw me all kinds of hurdles to cross, and I'll seek the promise in those problems and look to trusted friends, comrades and even strangers to help me navigate those rough spots.

Life is an amazing mystery. We are but seconds in time, but that smallness can't let us resist living and living well, embracing what life has to offer and following the stars that lead us forward.

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