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Aging is a strange thing

Been thinking about aging. Partly, I suppose, because I’m developing a course on the true potential and promise of aging, and partly because, well, I’ll be 79 soon (and JoAnn will be 80, though she tries not to think about it, and hates it when I remind her).

Aging is a strange thing. Our bodies get old, of course. But the unconquerable spirit that is in us all — the truth of you and the truth of me — doesn’t get old, does it?

I’m sure you were as touched as I was by the courage of Kirk Douglas as he came on stage at the Oscars and showed how nothing can take away that unconquerable spirit that is in him. It’s unborn, and undying, the truth of who we all are.

The remarkable story of Frank Buckles

Consider the remarkable story of Frank Buckles, who died of natural causes at his home in Charles Town, West Virginia, on Sunday at the age of 110. Mr. Buckles enlisted for World War I at the age of 16 , after being less than truthful about his age.

A man with a truly unconquerable spirit, wouldn’t you say?

How can we connect more deeply with this unconquerable spirit we saw in Kirk Douglas and that Mr. Buckles surely revealed in his life?

Here are some thoughts.

How to be true to our own unconquerable spirit:

1. Be true to your integrity

It doesn’t matter what situation we find ourselves in – or whether it’s large or small — there is always the right thing. We only have to listen to our heart, and the right thing, whatever it may be, makes itself apparent to us.

Whenever I think of integrity, or the unconquerable spirit, I think of my Dad, who lived until he was 95, and liked to say you could put his medical history on the back of a postage stamp.

Dad was a reporter all his life on big British newspapers, and on one famous occasion, was ordered by a government spy tribunal to disclose the sources he had used in a story.

As he told the court, he would be untrue to himself and to his journalistic ethics to comply with the court’s request. Dad was sent to prison for six months – but it was a small price to pay for being true to his own integrity – his own unconquerable spirit.

2. Learn to walk the middle way

The unconquerable spirit loves balance. Sometimes, of course, finding the right balance in our lives can be quite a trick.

I love my blog, for example. I love writing a new post, and sharing the truth of my life as best I can. I love the opportunity to meet new friends that blogging provides.

But as much as I love my blog, and would like to see it succeed — and make a little extra money for JoAnn and me to supplement our fixed income — I can’t be hostage to my blog.

I know that quite a few bloggers deal with this issue. But ultimately our own integrity and balance is more important than any external activity or goal.

3. Find a compass in life

Finding a compass in life is essential to knowing our own unconquerable spirit and essence.

For me, that compass comes down to stillness. Because it’s when I am still — perhaps right now, or maybe this afternoon for a few precious moments in a coffee shop — that I sense the presence of what is eternal in myself. What is untouched — amazingly — by any of the turmoil of the world or the aches and pains of my body.

Love and blessings. May peace be with you.

It’s Boot Camp Time at the A-list blogger club

By the way, the A-list blogger club, to which I belong, and which is such a tremendous resource and help in my blogging life, will be running a new boot camp from March 6 to April 2.

The boot camp is entitled: the Art of Blog Seduction: How to Attract Subscribers to Your Awesome Blog. Mary Jaksch, co-founder of the Club with Leo Babauta, tells me participants will learn such things as:

  • The crucial must-know design elements of an attractive blog;
  • How to create supreme usability on your blog;
  • The art of creating an irresistible brand;
  • How to use videos and podcasts to attract readers; and much more…

I took part in on of the A-List Blogging Bootcampa not too long ago and it was terrific. The value that Mary and Leo offered in the boot camp was truly exceptional, as is their follow-through. As I mentioned last week, Mary is one of the most genuinely helpful people I have ever met.

Click HERE to check out The Art of Blog Seduction

Picture credit:

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4034/4394271933_1c48404d4e.jpg
Note: I’m an enthusiastic affiliate of A-List Blogging Bootcamps

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandra / Always Well Within February 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Christopher,
I was happy to see you addressing the topic of aging. Although I’m a few years younger than you, befriending impermanence is always a topic on my mind. It’s not something that happens overnight necessarily. But it is centered around our realization of the unconquerable spirit of which you speak, that is beyond life and death.

The three point you underline are beautifully expressed and resonate for me. I too find that stillness provides the foundation for discovering the truth of who we really are. Through connecting with our true nature, we can overcome our fear of dying and discover who we truly are.

Thanks for this potent article.
Sandra / Always Well Within recently posted..6 Meaningful Links for Personal Growth

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Christopher Foster February 28, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Thank you Sandra. I am so happy to feel a sense of friendship budding with you as with Lori. You are two very precious women.

At the bottom of all our distress surely is the fear of death, just as you say. But here’s the paradox isn’t it. The being that we truly are is timeless and knows it is timeless. And this is something which we can know and share, just as you suggest, when we open our heart to the stillness of our being. Blessings.

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Lori | JaneBeNimble February 28, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Hi Christopher,
It’s been too long since I directly communicated here at your blog. I’ve had to put commenting onto a sort of a back burner for awhile — apologies (but I know you understand). ;)

I see darling Sandra has proceeded me in the comment box as well. I really love this community, with you and Sandra as a couple of the biggest hearts and minds paddling along with us.

About your post, I really love it, Christopher. I read the news piece about Mr. Buckles at NPR this morning and kind of welled up. As a veteran of a foreign war myself, I somehow feel connected to my brothers and sisters in service. Thanks so much for honoring him by featuring him here. Amazing about your father, too. What a story! I’m so happy you shared that with us. I see him in you.

I love that you’re writing about aging. I may be a few years your junior ;) but with my health situation, I think I can more closely relate than my 40-year-old peers. There’s something about feeling one’s body decline that can be unsettling. But as you so beautifully explain, I have also found how important it is to find one’s compass. I can relate to the stillness of which you speak. Beautiful.

Christopher, your are a lighthouse to me and I very much appreciate and value our friendship.
I’m wishing you a peaceful day and a balanced heart.
Much Love,
~xo
Lori | JaneBeNimble recently posted..Images as Connection to Creative Energy

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Christopher Foster February 28, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Lovely to hear from you Lori. Thank you so much for your kind and evocative comment. Yes. A decline of any kind in how our body feels can be unsettling. And is unsettling, becoz as a species we have been identified with our body for a long long time.

I’m with you as you meet on a daily basis the very real challenges of your own physical situation. One thing I have found or do find helpful in my own journey is this: It only takes a moment of true stillness to see our earthly situation in a drastically different light than before. It seems to change everything. And even if old feelings re-emerge nothing can change the peace and extraordinary relief we experienced in that moment of stillness.

Plus, there is always the present moment in which to be still again…and again…and again…and so to “grow” our experience of our eternal spiritual Self. Who we truly are. Love and blessings to you Lori.

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The Vizier March 1, 2011 at 7:28 am

Hi Christopher,

I may be only 31 this year, but I don’t need to be old to realize that I too will grow old one day. But as you rightly point out, if our spirit is unconquerable, what truly matters won’t get old.

I love the story about your dad. He is truly someone that is worthy of admiration and respect for his great integrity. It is small wonder that he lived to 95 with such a great spirit.

Finding balance in every aspect of our lives is important. What may be good for us can easily harm us if we indulge to excess. Without balance, it is hard to live a good life. Giving in to our every impulse and being a slave of our desires is no way to nurture an unconquerable spirit.

Though I probably have many years ahead, it is good to cultivate my unconquerable spirit consistently.

Thank you for sharing this article! :)

Irving the Vizier
The Vizier recently posted..Opening the Mind to the Impossible

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Christopher Foster March 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Bless you Irving. For sure, your spirit is unconquerable — and while I can’t guarantee your body won’t age I can guarantee your spirit won’t age. And thank you for the happy face. Haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet :)

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inspirational thoughts by Stephen March 1, 2011 at 9:22 am

I think you made a valuable point by saying we should stay true to our integrity. I like the story that you shared about your dad. It is really inspiring and enlightening at the same time.

Many times in our lives, we will see positive results because we followed with our integrity. This isn’t always the case as there are a few times in our lives that if we remain true to our integriy, we will lose something valuable to us. It is in these times that our lives are truly defined as individuals.

Thank you for sharing this.
inspirational thoughts by Stephen recently posted..The 1 Secret of Happy Relationships in Lasting Love

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Christopher Foster March 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Thankyou for your words Stephen and for taking the time to stop by. You’re right of course. We may be true to our integrity and still lose something very precious. But we won’t lose the most important thing of all — our own true Self.

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Maria Frid March 1, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Thank you Chris for writing regarding this important theme. As my body ages (64), I see the importance of being enthusiastic about living NOW. Keeping my mind supple and flexible in order to see the wonder of my world as I live today.

I keep my mind curious in order to learn; and try new and useful activities. I also love keeping my body fit thru exercise and eat healthy foods so I actively participate in staying strong and vibrant.

I don’t allow my mind to skip to the future which only allows fear to cloud my experience now and I realize it is a useless activity. Of course, I do realize, we must plan for certain things, which is part of being here now.

Dr. Wayne Dyer put it nicely, “Enlightenment means taking full responsibility for your life.” I see aging well as my responsibility and I would love to pass that vision on to my children, family and friends.

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Christopher Foster March 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Thank you so much Maria. Your words bring a real blessing. Your text came thru a little garbled for some reason, I hope that in touching it up in one or two places I’ve done so accurately.

You sum up so well the responsibility that I think we all have for our own life, just as Dr. Wayne Dyer said. Blessings.

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Phil Malmstrom March 1, 2011 at 6:43 pm

This was another wonderful article Christopher, and as always you made some excellent points.

I think in society today, many people underestimate the importance and value in maintaining integrity. They’ve been led to believe that there are always “gray areas” and that those are usually the safest and easiest way to handle situations. Unfortunately, this more often than not leads to further problems and diminishes us all as a whole.

And as you know, you and I share a love of Stillness so I’m in complete agreement there as well. For me, that time where I can commune with my Creator is essential for my center of being. I gain much of my balance there, and can recharge my spiritual batteries for the challenges that lie in front of me.

Thank you for another inspired post my friend. :-)

Have a Blessed Day!
Phil Malmstrom recently posted..Kindness is Contagious

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Christopher Foster March 4, 2011 at 7:18 pm

You’re absolutely right Phil. We underestimate the importance of integrity at our peril. There’s something in the Bible, isn’t there, about how the mills of the gods grind slow, but they grind exceeding fine. Mind you, I think they’re grinding a bit more quickly these days too…

I’m so happy for the agreement we share. Blessings to you Phil.

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rob white March 4, 2011 at 8:06 am

Hi Christopher,
I get such a deep sense of serenity and wisdom here at your blog. Thank you for sharing your insight. As I age toward my late 60’s I have experienced that indeed, the truth within does not age but rather comes through clearer and clearer. I take solace in knowing that the unconquerable spirit will never die. I’ve come to realize it is my job to express my spirit as fully as possible while I am here and leave behind a conversation that will live on.

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Christopher Foster March 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Thanks Rob. Your words bring me a lot of happiness and I am with you 100 percent in your remarks. Good to be sharing the journey with you. And hey, how come I thought you were just a young fellow? Young in spirit, that’s what it is.

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Sibyl - alternaview March 6, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Christopher: I think this is a really important topic to discuss and your post was really great. I know I am only 35, but I really appreciate a lot of the information and advice you offered in this post. What really stood out and was poignant was the advice to find a compass in life. I think that is so important and will always keep us on the right track.
Sibyl – alternaview recently posted..30 Things I Wish I Knew Earlier In Life – Life Lessons eBook

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Christopher Foster March 8, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Sibyl, such a pleasure to hear from you. I love your blog as you know. Thanks for your comment about a compass — I suppose it comes down to being genuine ultimately — true to ourself.

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JenP March 13, 2011 at 5:26 am

Thank you for posting this.
I’m 41 and whilst my own aging does concern me a bit, I’m much more concerned watching my parents age and knowing they won’t be around for ever. I fear their deaths much more than I fear my own.
JenP recently posted..My Silent Retreat Part 2

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Amanda May 16, 2011 at 11:46 am

Hi Christopher,
I’d like to add that finding a sense of stillness also helps us build strength to face the ins and outs and ups and downs of life.
I was in a place about year ago where I was just so overwhelmed by life and never thought I’d find the strength or perseverance to get through it, at least without it eating me alive.

Since I’ve found a stronger sense of inner calm that I can call upon when things get tough, it’s changed my perspective and I feel more empowered.

So happy to stumble upon your blog, your story is very inspirational.
Best,
Amanda

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Christopher Foster May 17, 2011 at 9:19 am

Hi Amanda, I’m delighted to hear from you. Thank you so much for your sharing and I think it is so beautiful you’ve been finding this inner strength and calm. The true peace is there in all of us, and it sure makes a difference doesn’t it just like you say when we make more space for it in our lives. Every good wish and blessings in your ongoing journey.

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