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The surprising potential of our senior years

Does life have to diminish as we grow older? Or can we find new and perhaps surprising ways to keep growing and expanding and giving our gift despite the challenges of aging?

I've been thinking of these things since an unusual encounter at my gym the other day.

I've been doing resistance training for 10 years. It's a lifeline for me. The other day I was finishing up my routine on a machine that targets the abdomen when a young fellow came over to me. He had a friendly smile on his face as he looked at me.

"How old are you?" he asked me in a simple, straightforward way. More directly I'm sure than would have happened in the Britain of my youth:-).

I had never met this man but smiled back and told him my age. He positively beamed and said how happy he was to realize we don't have to go downhill as we age but can stay vigorous and active.

A door to renewal and growth

I'm 80 on Friday, one of many older people who realize they do not have to be subject to stereotypes about aging, and that despite its challenges it can be a time of remarkable promise and opportunity.

I was charmed and delighted last evening when I saw a clip on the evening news of a good-looking 89-year-old man being honored at a graduation ceremony at a US university. How happy and proud he looked, and he deserved to be happy and proud.

Every life is unique. But here are some ways in which I am finding a remarkable potential in aging that I perhaps could not have imagined when I was a young fellow wrapped up in my busy activities and goals.

I am becoming more conscious every day of my true nature. A longing that was in me ever since my youth is being fulfilled and I am so grateful. Simply feeling the presence of my true nature -- the timeless wisdom and truth that dwells at the core of each one of us -- is a delight that never ends.

My appreciation for the magic of little moments is increasing. It takes a very small thing to make me happy -- stopping to watch a bird in flight, or chatting for a moment with the serving lady at my coffee shop is more than enough.

The gift of empathy

My love for people is growing. "Everyone's doing their best," I say to my wife, though it may be time to think of a new line as far as that's concerned:-). Perhaps it's because I'm not in such a hurry, perhaps it's because the years -- and my own suffering -- have made me more capable of empathy and compassion.

I have always loved Nature, and the lessons of Nature, but honor her more each day for the gifts she gives with such generosity. We have a creek just below our townhome complex that flows all year long and I never tire of listening to the sweet sounds that this creek makes as it hurries past rocks and other obstacles to wherever it is going.

I see past challenges in a new way

I see the various traumas and challenges of my life in a new way. I used to think that some of the events in my past were terrible and unjust, but now I realize they actually opened a door to greater freedom and happiness.

My love for my wife, JoAnn, deepens every day. I see more and more deeply into her strong, enduring, caring spirit and I wonder how I could be so lucky. Except I don't think it is luck really, I think a hand of grace was with us and brought me to her and me to her.

And last (though I think I could go on for a long time:-) I see my father in a new light. A beautiful light. I could not connect with him when he lived but I connect with him now and I love him as I love my mother and others who have departed this realm. I know they bless me as I continue in my journey of renewal and change.

Truly, our bodies age, but our spirit does not know what age is.

I send greetings and best wishes. I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you have any thoughts or experiences you’d like to share please write.

Picture credit:   ymcapdx

 

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Yashu May 14, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Happy Birthday……….

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Christopher Foster May 14, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Thanks Yashu. Love and blessings.

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Elana May 14, 2012 at 2:01 pm

I always enjoy your posts, and I especially appreciate this one. Approaching midlife, I have struggled with the reality of aging, which as a woman can be very tough, and realized it is only as awful as we believe it to be. Thanks, Christopher. I find your blog, your voice and writings, to be a consistent source of inspiration and timeless wisdom. Bless you!

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Christopher Foster May 14, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Thank you so much Elana. We are all in this extraordinary adventure of life together. Your words encourage me, I’m so happy my words are a help to you. It can seem a lonely road at times. But the truth is this is a universe of love and you are very much loved. Stay strong.

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David Banner May 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Chris…this posting really resonates with me. I love Diane more than ever as we approach 30 years together this month! And, as I move towards my 71st birthday, I am more compassionate, more humble and more caring than I ever have boon…..what a blessing! Finally, I notice that my opinions are not as fixed…that I can see things from many perspectives simultaneously. I am so richly blessed!

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Christopher Foster May 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Always such a pleasure to hear from you David. Your words are beautiful. Please do give my love to Diane and keep a bucket load for yourself. It’s good to be travelling the same road with you. Blessings to you both.

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carlene May 14, 2012 at 7:11 pm

What a great post to read on my own birthday. Very inspiring, thank you, and happy early birthday to you!

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Christopher Foster May 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Thanks Carlene. I hope you had a happy and blessed birthday and I wish you many happy returns.

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Evan Griffith May 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm

You You YOU!

Chris — You delight in virtually every virtual outing. And you just codified what I’m coming to believe — it only gets better and deeper. I’m just shy of three decades behind you and never in my youth could I have imagined the intensity, the frolic and the passion of this age.

Thank you for lighting the way for the rest of us — welcome to your new decade!

Evan
PS: My son and I are relishing your book!! For anyone who hasn’t bought it, I recommend doing so now. (Chris, you need a link to it from this home page . . . .)
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Christopher Foster May 15, 2012 at 12:30 pm

You’re such a great friend Evan. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your own experience, your words truly inspire. You mention frolic and isn’t it wonderful that life likes to have fun. I don’t think there’s any limit to it. Love and blessings and I’m so glad you and your son are enjoying the book.

PS Re the book thanks for your tip. But it seems that as long as I keep it in this program at Kindle I’m not allowed to sell it somewhere else. Have to think how to handle this.

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Evan Griffith May 15, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Chris —

Regarding your PHENOMENAL book — The Raven Who Spoke With God:

You should be able to go to it in Amazon and copy the link. Then you would paste it somewhere (highly visible) on this page as you would normally when you link to something. Preferably you’d have an image and text w the link, as you do for The Wisdom of Serenity above.

Then everyone can click on it and get there in an instant. I urge you to do it — or hire a graphic designer who should be able to do it quickly and cost-effectively — so you can get those well-deserved sales . . . .

Here’s the link so you don’t even have to look for it (this includes all of you readers here who want to support the exceptional work that Christopher puts out):

http://www.amazon.com/The-Raven-Who-Spoke-ebook/dp/B007OLLQYM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1337118350&sr=8-2

I just tested it and it brought me straight to your Kindle version of the book.

Hop to it!

Evan
Evan Griffith recently posted..What do I mean by God?

Joy May 14, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Happy Birthday Christopher, loved this post, I am trying to understand those around me are walking their own path, difficult at times also I have just celebrated my 63rd birthday this past week. Nature is my refuge too for exercise and the calming effect it has on me. Learning everyday and hope to celebrate many more birthdays with you. Love to you and JoAnn. JoyK

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Christopher Foster May 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Joy, what a pleasure to hear from you. Thanks for your comment. “Learn and live,” a friend used to like to say, and as long as we’re willing to keep doing this I think everything will work out beautifully. Love from both of us and stay strong.

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Colsie Conradie May 15, 2012 at 2:58 am

I think you are great and you are inspiring x

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Christopher Foster May 15, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Thank you and bless you Colsie. I’m very thankful for the unique presence you bring to this world. Take care.

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Carmen May 15, 2012 at 10:07 am

Hi Christopher!

May you have a truly blessed and Happy Birthday! I so enjoyed the precious sharing of your insights and so appreciate your love of life. I also value your perspective on aging since I will be 62 tomorrow, although I feel more like forty, if indeed, forty has a feeling to it? I was wondering if you have an email address where I could contact you?

Love to you and your precious wife, Jo An. What a dear gift you give of your love for her!

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Christopher Foster May 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm

You’re such a kind woman Carmen. Thank you for your lovely words. JoAnn and I send love back to you and hope you have a wonderful, wonderful birthday.

I really like what you say about feeling more like 40. Sometimes I feel like 40 too. Well, 50 anyway. Then sometimes I feel about 103:-) My email is christopherfoster@comcast.net. Always a pleasure to connect with you Carmen. Stay strong.

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johanna May 15, 2012 at 8:07 pm

I just want to thank you. I’m so happy to have the ‘Happy Seeker’ in my life. You are really inspiring! Thanks.

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Christopher Foster May 16, 2012 at 10:29 am

I’m sitting here in my little home office and I’m thinking to myself, ‘How kind it was of Johanna to send me such a sweet little note.’ Right back at you Johanna. Take care.

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Mary Dixon May 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Just to say thank you for your inspiring words today in your message Happy Seeker.

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Christopher Foster May 22, 2012 at 10:17 am

Hi Mary, I’m sorry I’m a bit late thanking you for your comment. But I want you to know I appreciate your message very much, and the fact you took the time to write. Love and blessings to you.

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Hilary May 19, 2012 at 6:51 am

Hi Christopher .. I missed it – sorry, but I’m here now … congratulations and I hope you had a very happy day, and will have a lovely weekend. Great news – and you’re using your life so appropriately .. happily seeking ways and means to enjoy this wonderful world of ours. I greet from a sunny Eastbourne for a change!!

Have many more happy years ahead .. cheers Hilary
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Christopher Foster May 22, 2012 at 10:20 am

Thanks so much for your words Hilary, I really appreciate your kind thoughts. I’m glad you’ve been getting some sunny days in Eastbourne:-) My birthday was wonderful, it really was, very memorable. I may have overdone it just a touch but it was worth it: Blessings to you Hilary.

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Laura May 21, 2012 at 6:07 am

A longing that was in me ever since my youth is being fulfilled and I am so grateful. Simply feeling the presence of my true nature — the timeless wisdom and truth that dwells at the core of each one of us — is a delight that never ends.
Laura recently posted..Some dental implants probleme

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Elke May 22, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Hello, old friend! 😉
I am very priviledged to have attended a dear friend’s 100th birthday, 2 years ago! She celebrated her 102nd this week. She didn’t have another major bash this time, and she probably didn’t make 2 trifle puddings again. This lady knocks the socks off any young woman when it comes to appearance! She is one of the most beautiful people I know and can still be found gardening at times! My mum, on the other hand has not reached 70, yet she is and looks old. I often catch myself running, because I can, even when my 5year old is nowhere near, therefore giving me a reason for such immature behavior. But then nearing 43 is a good excuse to prepare for another celebration!
And I am writing this on a Blackberry in an attempt to keep riding the tide of time! It’s all very new to me and I’m conquering SOME mind gremlins in the process.
Have a wonderful day!

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Christopher Foster May 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Wonderful, Elke. Wonderful. I am so VERY happy that you haven’t stopped being a bit immature at times, the world needs more “immature” people aka playful, alive, curious, truth-believing people.

You painted a beautiful picture of your 102 year old friend. Holy smokes. Reminds me of my Dad, an indomitable kind of English guy who died at 95 and I’m sure would think of me and JoAnn as mere youngsters.

Life is good isn’t it Elke. I’m happy to be privileged to share a bit of it with you. Oh, I forgot to mention your quote about writing your comment on a Blackberry. Impresses the heck out of me. I have to admit that while I do try to keep a tiny bit involved with computer world I only barely know what a Blackberry is. My love to you and stay well.

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Elke May 24, 2012 at 10:10 pm

A belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

senior care franchise May 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Hi Christopher,
Happy 80th Birthday to you! And I am happy that you see how beautiful and unique life is. “It takes a very small thing to make me happy” I’ll take from that phrase. And to you and to your wife, I know you love each other and the love grows you both eternally.
God Bless!
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Christopher Foster May 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Thank you for your very kind words and God bless you too. Sounds like you are doing great work there.

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Christopher Foster May 16, 2012 at 10:27 am

Evan, thank you and thank you again. I’m in process of lining up a tech person to help me with a few things and I’ll sure include this issue you’re talking about.
You’re a wonderful friend. I am very thankful life brought me to you and you to me.
Love to you Evan.

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Christopher Foster May 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Thank you Elke. I hope you’re keeping on top of those ebbs and flows of life:-)

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