I am aware of the things which grind a person down with age. And while none of us will live forever in these bodies, aging gracefully is possible and, to me at least, desirable. I think most would say stress is a killer, but I suspect there’s a bit more, as I discover a body over fifty becomes increasingly intolerant of the insult of ignorance. By that I mean what I choose to ignore, whether it be:
The blessing of movement through regular exercise that is nourishing and fun.
A good night’s sleep (and this certainly cannot be minimized, I am clear and present this morning to attest).
A good diet, meaning a deep and more profound listening to the body and less overriding of its warning signals. Whole foods are best accepted and digested, naturally, and cooking to enhance freshness and flavor is part of that, for me. (The stuff I did in my twenties would likely kill me now. If I only knew then ...)
The deep need to love and be loved. At this point in my life, I find myself insisting that relationships be reciprocal, as I am much more cognizant of the amount of energy required to maintain them.
Boundaries: it is helpful for me to gauge interaction with a yardstick of respect: both respect for others as well as my own self respect. Pushing my boundaries invariably results in feeling drained. I don’t say yes when I mean no (see my post on this), and parcel out my time in order to be as fully present to others and to myself as possible. And though I’m not always successful, more often than not is good enough.
I am sure there are many more aspects I could enumerate, but these jump out as the most obvious. Oh, spending time in nature every single day is the best cure for any blues or illness I know. Since I came of age at eighteen, I’ve always chosen to live in the countryside, close to the earth, starry heavens at night, and the sounds and smells of species other than human. And while I love people, some can be unintentionally inconsiderate in their drive to discover distractions to the urging of life’s unfoldment. Allowing myself balance between downtime and social interaction is perhaps the greatest gift of all.