Monday, January 18, 2016

The Wonder Years

"Sometimes I wonder about myself," a friend told me recently after having a tough time with that day's crossword puzzle. "I can't think of answers as quickly anymore. I wonder if I'm losing it..."

While this friend wonders about cognitive losses, others our age wonder about other unknowable aspects of aging:

Wondering if savings will last a lifetime....or not.

Wondering how long health and mobility will last.

Wondering what will happen if and when we lose the capacity to live on our own.

Wondering how one would cope (and hoping never to find out) with the loss of a spouse.

Wondering how to make a difference now that life has changed so much from the hectic working and family raising years.

Wondering if this is all there is....

These days, we wonder a lot of things and so many of these thoughts anticipate pain and loss. So many are simply unknowable.

And while we can't know the challenges that life will bring tomorrow, next month, next year or five years from now, we can do what's possible to ease our fears. We can safeguard our health and mobility with good self-care: healthy eating and regular exercise. We can stimulate our minds with daily challenges -- learning new things, reading, crosswords, puzzles, good conversations instead of vegging out in front of the television set. We look for positive ways to make a difference -- with grandchildren and by volunteer work in the community, through church or other organizations that help those in need, by working with animal rescue or for other causes that are meaningful.

And we can engage in another form of wonder. Instead of focusing on the negative "what if's", we can look at what is and celebrate everything that's good about today.

Think about your own life in all its complexity -- and wonder.

And you might be thinking: Isn't it a wonder that:

Today, I'm fine. I feel reasonably well. While I'm not physically the person I was at 25 or 30 or even 40, I'm doing well for my age physically. Maybe I'm even better now emotionally, having weathered so many of life's challenges and knowing that I can survive pain, disappointment and loss to celebrate each day as it comes.

Today, there is enough of everything I need. Okay, maybe I don't have everything I want. But I do have everything I truly need.

Today, despite any physical limitations I might have, can be filled with the joy of touching the life of another with a smile, with gratitude, with kindness.

Today, I have many opportunities to make my own life -- and those of others -- better, healthier, more rewarding.

Today, I can experience the pleasure of generativity: encouraging a younger person to follow a dream, to take a risk worth taking, to believe in himself.

Today, I can look back on a life well-lived. I can hope for many more good days. But if my life were to end tomorrow, isn't it a wonder to know that, overall, my life has been good.

Today, my beloved spouse is here beside me. I won't miss the chance to tell him or her how much s/he is loved and cherished.

Today, I'm here. Too many people I've known have not had the privilege of growing older.  What a wonder that I've lived to see today and what a perfect day it is to learn, to grow, to celebrate and to love.


  1. I really like and can relate to many of your "todays". Those help to make our days proactive, not just treading water. Thank you for reminding me that treading water is not enough.

  2. Hurray for this other side of the wonder years!

  3. I think as you age, the reality of losing those that once were a part of your life becomes a reality that must be reckoned on a more frequent basis. I've thought of so many lately from my younger years who didn't even make it to age fifty. I realize how blessed I am to have each day. I still have hopes, dreams, desires. I'm not going to sit and watch life slip by. I can do the my 100th year. I see that happening with my mother. She has been busy and engaged until just the last few months. She just reached the 100th year of her birth. Now, she is sleeping more and not as engaged on many days. Other days, she is up and going strong. That is the secret. Keep going!

  4. Marvellous, Kathy! A reminder to us all in our later years to count our blessings and be grateful for the life we still have.

  5. So right to focus on the wonder of today, rather than worry about tomorrow.

  6. I often think of that last statement and thankful for this day.

  7. I can identify with this so much. Thank you for reminding me of all the ways we can push back against the negative thoughts.

  8. Cliché, but I'll say it anyway... I treasure life so much!
    Thanks for the reminder to focus on "Today." Doing so will help me to experience more of people, places, things and thoughts that I treasure.