Thursday, October 22, 2015

Join "Aging Anonymous" as the merry-go-round slows and enjoy the ride

By Michael J Morris

Gosh, with all the really big stories floating around the twitterverse , I thought that I would pontificate on at least one of them.

Maybe about meeting Justin Trudeau in 1982 with his father Pierre and his brothers when he passed through Chapleau on a train after they had eggs hurled at their car in Revelstoke BC. I covered the Chapleau visit for CBC TV News.
MJ on left

Maybe the story behind how the headline in the Chatham Daily News where I was news editor in 1968, was 'CANADA GOES TRUDEAU'.

 Certainly worthy stories but for the moment at least I will leave them alone, and share some thoughts on a column written by Virginia Bell for Huffington Post on "aging better". 

Bell claims it gets better as you get older. "You get better. Life gets better.The merry-go-round slows down and you can finally enjoy the ride..."

I don't usually read past the first couple of paragraphs of most stories ((I've become an all the news in 140 characters kind of guy) but Bell's comment intrigued me. 

She suggests that it's not easy but possible but "necessary to make peace with yourself, your past, and the whole process of aging. That naturally involves forgiveness, compassion, and patience; for yourself first of all and for others.
MJ with my buddy Toni

In fact, aging is the ultimate 12-step program; Aging Anonymous! Instead of giving up drugs or drinking, you have to give up all the things you're still holding onto; the material things as well as the emotional baggage; the grudges, resentment, and regrets. It doesn't happen overnight; it's an ongoing process and like any recovery work it's tough, humbling but ultimately life changing."

Aging Anonymous! Nice touch. Bell also makes it clear that it doesn't mean we can't continue to be "active, ambitious and successful but hopefully the ego is no longer calling the shots..."

Ed watching me "golf"
Damn ego. I recall that after retiring from College of the Rockies, the phone didn't ring as much; I was no longer the centre of attention as the sage on the the stage in front of the classroom, which I had, at least in my own mind, been for more than 30 years. It was downright depressing and I recall chatting over coffee with Dr Berry Calder, the college president about it.

Berry laughed and gave  me the solution. "Come up here and get a cup of coffee from my pot which you have been doing for years, wander the halls and chat." I did and soon I drifted away from the college, gradually making the adjustment. I hardly ever visit the place now.

My voting place in the last federal election was at the college, and I really enjoyed my visit. Didn't take me long to vote and I wandered about for a bit. Ran into a couple of old buddies, and the renovations are awesome.

No, I have no desire to return to the classroom, but I must admit a touch of nostalgia during my visit.

Bell offers good advice: "The projects we pursue and the life we lead need to reflect that and be aligned with who we are now and not who we once were. If we're able to make that transition then getting older can be a rich and fulfilling experience."

She offers four suggestions:

1.  Finding a purpose for this phase of life is essential: It doesn't have to be professional but we all need something that brings us joy and gives us a way to be in the world as an elder person. 

2. If you don't have a purpose then take some time to discover it: Ask yourself, if you died at this moment what would you regret not having done? A life review is a valuable process; one that is highly respected among psychologists, social workers and gerontologists. 

3.  Develop your inner life: Carl Jung believed what healed patients in the second half of life was to cultivate a spiritual outlook. He recommended tools such as dream analysis and creativity. Journaling, prayer, or spending time in nature are also ways to awaken those parts of the self that were not developed while we were building a career and constructing our social persona. Meditation is another.

4. Simplify, simplify, simplify: As we age the desire to acquire is less and the need to scale down becomes stronger. Our focus is shifting and we don't have the time or physical energy to deal with a lot of stuff. 

Bell adds: "Ultimately, aging well it's about being authentic; discovering your own rhythm, making your own rules, going at your own speed. It's being flexible enough to change and grow but not feeling pressured to stay relevant and look youthful. So lean back, lean in, reach up, lie down and most of all love yourself where you are."

Dane. MJM, Jessica my fav lifeguards now at college
Before you ask, yes, I have been working on bits and pieces of Bell's four suggestions for some time. Even today I am.

For example, when I was a daily newspaper reporter, I may have had to write on one of the stories I noted at the beginning.

If I was still teaching English literature, maybe I would be preparing a lecture on Robin Williams outstanding performance as a teacher in 'Dead Poets Society" and the use of metaphor in Walt Whitman's "My Captain. My Captain" in the movie and in Williams' life. Or discussing John Steinbeck's incredible novel "Of Mice and Men",

But I'm not. Today I will go my usual walks, go for a swim at the pool -- aka Cranbrook Aquatic Centre --- where guess what; Rrecently one of the lifeguards told me about his Chapleau connection. Historically, a huge one!
Ron, Joel, Peter, Mark, Jim some of the FMCC members

And I plan  to have coffee with the guys in the Friday Morning Coffee Club where maybe, just maybe we will discuss the burning issues of the day, and maybe not too.

We may just laugh at the absurdity of it all. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

 My friend Jim sent me a text one day:

"I'm happy. You happy?"

My reply:

"I am indeed."

Enough said!

My email is mj.morris@live.ca

P.S. I am planning the rest of 2017!



Here is the link to Virginia Bell's article:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/virginia-bell/aging-gracefully_b_5567746.html?

2 comments:

  1. Good advice on aging all the way through, Michael. And believe me I know it, having learned the hard way.
    Gerry

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Michael, What a WONDERFUL article!! It's time for us to have a coffee when you're back from Florida!! I just got back from New Orleans. Be well friend. Valerie.

    ReplyDelete

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