|Timeless Iguassu Falls, Brazil|
Recently, after a round drinks a friend of more than forty years made a bland and pointed observation. He scored a solid hit, since I write about the topic, attend conferences on the topic, and read about it. He said, “You are obsessed with aging.” “You may be right,” I responded. His comments were sparked by my observation that most of the people in his Marina Del Rey apartment building are much older than us. I continued, "Being aware of where I am in life’s time line, helps me to get on with it. Not waste time and make sure I live life.”
|Havasupai Falls, AZ|
|Sunrise at Haleakala Crater|
But that comment threw me into some reflection, ‘Am I making too much of this aging thing? Is it coloring my approach to life?’ Can I be present with aging and still live happy, vital, and hopeful?’ Age truly isn’t everything. The greatest experiences in life are ageless; Iguasu Falls, Brazil, sunrise at Haleakala Crater, and the bright blue waters of Havasupai Falls. And this is not to mention the excitement of personal relationships (fall in love at any age and feel young). And yet we often create separations in our life by age, ethnicity, class, and myriad other labels.
At the annual reggae night at the Hollywood Bowl this season, agelessness was in the air. Fifteen thousand people were of one accord in appreciation of the music and each other. Not limited by their human story including AGE, this community came together around common values expressed with a hypnotic beat and uplifting lyrics. There were young children in the crowd and many who would be called senior citizens. The artifacts of reggae culture (red, gold, and green shirts and hats) could be seen on many. Even the performers spanned the stages of life from youth to the 68 year old father of reggae, Toots Hibbert.
|One Love, One Life, One People, One Destiny|
The singing and dancing to well known songs spread a sense of joy over the scene. We connected across the generations and grooved in the place where timeless spirit resides. I have attended outdoor reggae festivals for over thirty years, ever since the first Bob Marley day at MacArthur Park in downtown L.A. This vibration has been consistent from Reggae on the River in Northern California to Reggae in the Jungle in Negril Beach, Jamaica to Reggae Pon de Mountain in Topanga, CA---all ages, community, and upfullness (positive vibes).
I wonder how many places in life do we have that experience? Not at church with the typical racial segregation, not at work its inherent hierarchies, not at an evening on the town which breaks into sharp age strata, and even not often with our friendships. We self-segregate in so many ways.
Pushing against artificial spirit limiting rules is my creed. Even as I accept and adjust to the changes that come with aging and changing life conditions, I ask ‘What can I do to be freer? How can I continue to enjoy sports even with the inevitable physical wear and tear? What is a fun activity for learning? Can I re-imagine my life that captures the openness, boldness, and curiosity of youth? At the same time, what adjustments do I need to make? Our essence is ageless but how to live that way?
At Agape Church recently, I met an old friend now in his 70s, who lives free AND makes adjustments. His life isn’t on the layaway plan. He creates his current life based on his current realities. This fellow quit his job as a stockbroker at age 50. He divorced his wife of the time and proceeded to reinvent. He now has a second home in Panama and a new wife. But what I’ve noticed over the 20 odd years I have known him is that he is always adjusting. He changes but doesn’t quit. A very athletic and fit man, he has done many extreme sports over the years (mostly free diving and ocean fishing), so I was surprised when he said he wouldn’t be water skiing on a family trip to a lake. He said, ‘I’ll be watching this time due to my back problems." He is modifying his behavior to deal with his new reality.
Accommodations because of physical changes are inevitable as we age. I have denied pain in my back til there was no way and then quit. The technology of Mr. Panama is to stay connected and work around. Obsessing with aging is unproductive when it sucks out life and leaves you deflated. It rewards the soul to stay engaged. Aliveness busts out. Staying on the edge and still addressing life’s changes offers a road map to vital living. That is what happens for me in making friends with those younger than me and doing new activities that requires me to live in beginner mind. They spark a different view of life.
|Old & Younger Together: Ziggy, Toots, Bob, & Freddie|
After the concert at the Bowl, the crowd strolled out, singing the songs, and smiling like it was a new beginning. They had stepped out of age/ class/ race lines and roles and spent a few hours in the freedom of ageless, united, and positive spirits. Then they walked down the hill to their cars and buses and slipped back into the roles and personae of their daily lives. Separate souls but when the occasion comes together they are one or as Ziggy Marley sang, ‘Love is my religion.’ And I add, is also ageless.