The fear of becoming “old” seems to be a looming concern for a lot us these days. As experienced realtors, we’ve witnessed that fear firsthand, as we help a lot of folks move homes during their Third Age, which is that last third of one’s life when they are still convinced they have the same capacity they did 20 years ago, but can’t seem to find the start button!
Aging is in your head! As I help people move from one home to another, I help them shed memories of all colors, purge unnecessary burdens (mental or physical), overcome fears about making big decisions, and let go of perceived negative outcomes. Basically, I reorient them into a new home, a new chapter, and a fresh start. This is work that is deeply personal as you step in and mess with people’s nest!
This type of work offers amazing opportunities to talk and share about this whole aging business and just how complex it is. When you are young, you kind of assume “old people” are another species that think and act in a uniform way; they are old, for gosh sake. But, dear young people; here’s a myth buster: none of us in reasonable health feel old. We feel experienced, wise, appreciative, determined, curious and liberated from the responsibilities of working and raising families. We can pursue our creativity, satisfy curiosities, and add value to our community via hours of volunteer work. We have a unique value often unappreciated in American culture.
Additionally, those of us who are still contributing often don’t read as “old”. We may have accumulated a little gait change, some gray hair, more comfortable shoes (Did you know the padding of fat in your feet dwindles with age?) and some aches and pains. But, if you are actively using your brain, it is still a treasure trove of wisdom and value and that lights you up in a way that resonates as youthful.
“The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.”
— Translation of Bhagavad Gita 2.23
I have not spoken to a single older client (aged 55-100) who’s said, “I feel old.” Most report feeling 20 to 30 years younger than their chronological age. This is because, as the Bhagavad Gita says, the soul cannot be extinguished.
While the vessel in which we dwell will be weathered, our invisible spirit remains unchanged. Who is reading this article right now? Are you the same spirit as when you were 2 years old, or 10 years old? Did you suddenly one day wake up a different you? Unlikely.
So, as I help people make this intimate transition, I see all the joy and pitfalls of aging. It is precisely because we don’t feel old that many wait too long to make changes in their environment to prepare for the lessening of their abilities. You likely will lose grip strength, feel unbalanced in a slippery tub, or have trouble getting your shoes out from under the bed- irritating, but inevitable to some degree.
The other key observation is that looming deadline! After a certain age you are keenly aware that no matter how you do the math, you may have 10, 15, 20 summers left, 100 moonrises. You’re also aware of the dreams that are not going to fit in the remaining time afforded to you. You become very selective about how you spend your time and with whom. The finish line looms!
Take every beautiful sunrise and cherish it, watch the moon cycle, feel the breeze, and be generous with others. These are the precious days in the last third. Wake up and treasure them.