Today I was at the VA Health office for some routine blood tests, and waited in the waiting room with numerous older men and one woman. Being fully aware that I am 55 years old, I am no youngster myself.
But as I observed each of them, I noticed how physically it was very difficult to get up and walk. They each struggled to read the magazines, as their eyes no longer work as well as they used to. Many had large swollen looking ankles, showing signs of gravity that have weighed their bodies down over their many years.
I soon became aware that I was only one step away from being as old as these other people around me. My eyes are also weaker, my legs don’t move like they used to, I hear the cracking of my bones when I stand up, and I have age spots that are becoming more noticeable.
Obviously, impermanence is at it’s finest as I witness this reality of aging right before my eyes. But what to do?
Some will get plastic surgery to appear younger, others will exercise diligently to try and maintain their physical stamina and a youthful appearance. But does any of that change the reality of aging and decay?
I think this process is similar to how most of us eat meat. We simply put it out of our mind, the reality of killing. The thought of some poor defenseless animal being tortured and killed for our consumption is simply too much to bear.
And in this same way, I think the thought of our bodies deteriorating and dying is too unpleasant to think about.
Not seeing reality does not make reality go away! This is what I sometimes refer to as a perversion to the mind.
So now I wondered how I can learn from this experience of the people around me. What lesson, what gift are they sharing with me?
The first thing I noticed was a sense of acceptance they all had. Not a one of them seemed to struggle with their own reality. They had a genuine peace about them. And I saw that it was me that was judging. I was struggling with what lie around the corner for me, not them. That darned “self” and “ego” were really having their way with my mind!
In that moment, they each taught me that right now is everything. No need to waste breath on what comes next.
Suddenly I felt invigorated by these individuals. I saw that I was wasting time while viewing their physical bodies, and that what lied beneath the surface was simply a human being. Not at all different than you or me!
So I see that there is no negotiating with aging, there is only acceptance and presence.
I’m grateful for this lesson today and the love I felt from all those around me. How wonderful to be alive this moment. And isn’t this one the only one I have.
Be well, happy and peaceful.