Age is the great jailer.
Your mind slows as do your steps. Your anxieties grow along with the list of ailments that are often sudden and follow no logical course. A lack of cause-and-effect in your movements, your thoughts, and your expectations begin to take their place in your everyday life. What you want in your life, from the way you feel to the paths you walk, falls short of your what you’d hoped for.
A look backwards to find an explanation to this state of mind and body is covered in fog. Memories are unclear. Our recollections are layered in doubt.
Nothing seems sure anymore. Every second offers some change, and adaptations seem clumsy. Life isn’t smooth.
When faced with these conditions, withdrawal from life is nearly universal. Facing the new challenges of age, self imposed solitary confinement is almost a logical next step. Life has increased its risk. Encountering this uncertainty on a daily basis can be, and often is, emotionally exhausting.
Once withdrawal occurs, the fog thickens. Memories fade. Feelings become distant. Numbness is the most we expect and often all we can rely upon. An unfeeling routine is better than emotional inconsistency.
It is here that we must, to a person, begin to take responsibility for this condition. If we know anyone suffering from this kind of loneliness, we must reach into the fog. To a person, human contact can steady a gait, bring assurance to a thought, and strengthen resolve in an effort. Of the three things that can reacquaint one with memories and regenerate energy back into life, the first two are sleep and exercise. The third, and the only one that involves another person, is conversation.
We are losing a great resource in those senior to us. Their memories have set the course for the life we have travelled. Their perspectives and experiences are dying. Once withdrawal begins, another of life’s unique perspectives disappears. Another chance to learn leaves us, and the richness in the tapestry of our life is subtracted, faded from the light that only the heart of another can bring forth.
We have to begin to see those older than us as important. Storytellers of history, their view on life-from their childhood, their high school years, the beginning steps to creating a family, their years of work, and their coming to terms with age-gives us just a little more clarity, a little more perspective. When we merely listen to the life of another, we are reclaiming the life that is disappearing, a reference we’ll never have again.
Speaking with someone in the last chapter in their life draws forth the light that they see over their shoulder, bringing an end to the darkness within their thoughts. Your presence lifts that fog, and your attention gives a new clarity to their life. The light is in their eyes one more time.
It is an effortless exercise. And if you’re stuck in exactly how to approach this condition, I refer you to the great John Prine. Take these words with you. It makes it easy. “So if you’re walking down the street sometime, and spot some hollow ancient eyes. Please don’t pass by ‘em and stare, as if you didn’t care.
Just say, Hello in there, hello.”
The fog will lift. Life will reappear. And you’ll probably have yourself a wonderful conversation.
Happy New Year.
By entrusting us with your feelings, we help you take steps that you see necessary to begin and put forth the energy to make the needed change.
Now notice something: Trust in a coach, mentor, or guide helps you see what's in front of you. We see a Coach for Your Heart a little like an emotional Sherpa, somebody that helps you climb your mountain by pointing out where to best step along the path.
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