Last night, my family got together to celebrate my mom’s 74th birthday. It’s hard to believe, but I can clearly remember when she was my age, reminding me of how quickly the years go by. When talking about her age, she usually speaks with pride, without regret or resentment about getting on in years. I say this only because I know that the aging process can be a bitter event in some people’s lives and they’ll do anything to turn back the hands on the clock. What some don’t realize, though, is that by living active, fulfilling and meaningful lives, we remain youthful and energetic, but with the added bonus of having the experience and wisdom of those much younger than us. I believe in my mom’s case, she’s just as active now as she was when she was my age. And although, she’s had her share of ups and downs like everyone, staying active has been an inherent trait for her.
So what is it about aging that causes people to look upon it with sadness or regret? The most obvious regret invoking trigger I can imagine is the feeling that we have not accomplished or experienced what we had hoped to in our lives. We got into the habit of saying to ourselves, I’ll do this later, or I’ll get to that another time, or I can’t do this or that now. And before we knew what had happened, the opportunities passed with time. The simplest way of avoiding that is to go for the things we want to do in life and not let excuses stop us. Easier said than done, I know that for sure. But when we look back on our lives, we’ll less likely regret doing something as opposed to not doing it at all.
For some as well, simply physically growing older and knowing that their bodies can’t perform the way they did when they were younger and knowing that their time here will eventually end puts them into a state of melancholy. I haven’t reached that point, but I can very clearly understand how that eventually happens. I don’t know of any elixir available that can suspend the aging process. We can certainly slow it, though by eating right, exercising, and keeping our stress levels low; however, time will continue to go by. Yet, how would we experience life without the passing of time? It takes time to grow, make mistakes, learn lessons, make memories, discover who we are, share good times and bad, and live through the phases in or lives that we’re meant to experience, if we’re lucky enough to reach them. And to be able to pass on our learning and wisdom to the generations that come after us is a gift that we can all share. Otherwise, the alternative is that we never reach old age, we fall short of the life that we could have lived, and we miss the opportunity to share our knowledge and wisdom. In that sense, having the opportunity to grow older is cause for celebration and I hope that if and when I turn 74, I won’t look back with regret or sadness, but with pride and joy. And one more thing, I hope that I can celebrate with a cake like the one pictured above. The chocolate mousse cake you see is courtesy of La Fiorentina in Springfield, MA and it’s one of the most delicious chocolate cakes I’ve ever had! : )