I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I mean, we are all aging. When I turned forty, I knew I was aging. That seemed really old. It was harder to play full court basketball. I began to ache after I played. My dad still hadn’t retired. So I wasn’t the last generation yet. I was aging but…
We are all trying to be graceful. We want to “mature” – to grow into all that we can be. We are still becoming.
But there comes a point when you’ve “become.” People call me “sir.” The forty year olds don’t ask me to play full court. I can’t do what I used to do. There comes a point where you really know that you are old… or older. It’s as though suddenly you’ve crossed some invisible line and are now officially old.
So what changes and how do we handle it? I sat recently with a group of “empty nesters” and asked them what had changed and what was changing in the near future. The answers were stunning. Aging parents, bodies changing and running down, families that weren’t what you thought they would be, facing the end of meaningful careers, financial futures less certain than we would want, and even marriages that fell short of what we had hoped for… One person said it this way, “My past is bigger than my future.”
Implicit in all of this is an awareness that death is coming. Our bodies begin to break down. We have less energy. Yes, we may know more. Yes, we may have accomplished a lot. Yes, we may have had good friendships and good careers, enjoyed our families, etc. But we can begin to see the end. At some level, it begins to loom.
So how do we age gracefully? In the words of my “Aging Gracefully” mentor Sam Cornwell, how do we “finish strong?” What does that look like? Thus far (and I am still trying to figure this thing out myself) it includes the following:
Palmer Trice is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He is married to Lynne, has three children and has been in Charlotte since 1979. In his spare time, Palmer enjoys golf, tennis, walking and reading.
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