“That is just how it is when you get older…”
“Everything starts to fall apart once you hit 40.”
“You aren’t valued for your wisdom as you age – the younger staff get the opportunities.”
I have heard several spiritual teachers say the equivalent of “Aging is Optional”. Wayne Dyer said it, and Christian Northrup teaches it. That is not to deny that the body changes. We transition through many body changes: baby, toddler, child, teen, adult, pregnancy, etc. The way we see aging significantly impacts the way we experience it.
In Chasing Enlightenment, Adyashanti talks about aging as a tool for moving us past the constructed self. He suggests that at some point, usually between 40 and 60, we are no longer able to reconstruct the image of self we have spent most of our lives building. We can’t sustain our career identity, as we may have hit the peak of positions we can attain. We can’t sustain our illusion of invincibility, as our bodies change. Gradually, those things we have spent a life time putting in to place as Me are no longer true.
Many people are terrified of that. They grasp at whatever is possible to hold on to a fragile ego identity that will inevitably fall away as death. The question is if you are willing to die to your ego while you are alive, and live in that freedom.
Personally, I feel great relief in the knowledge that nature has designed life to assist us in letting go of ego structures and increase the opportunity for us to be fully Awake. I have been actively devoted to seeing the ways in which I create separation for a few years now, with varying success. One noteworthy success is that, where as the knowing that I will die someday used to invoke terror, it now feels peaceful and beautiful. I know that I will come to be released fully from my mind and my ego.
I have never been one to fear getting older. I don’t have a mental model of aging. I have no expectations and no script to follow. That is one blessing of having a young child at a time when many of my peers are grandparents and retirees. My life is my own, not a pre-written script.
And that too is incredible freedom to be fully alive.