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Ageless Aging July 2015
July 08, 2015
July. We are just a bit more than half way through the year - just as many of us are a bit more than half way through our lives. We ALL know that there is societal pressure to think and to act young. So many voices repeat: Don't get old. Don't act old. Join those who will be 'forever young'. Entire industries are devoted to making 60 year olds look 20 years younger. Some of the fastest growing businesses are those selling creams and special pastes to make elders look younger. If you are not careful, your 'in box' can be jammed with ads for LATEST discoveries. . . and SPECIAL offers for this or that product 'guaranteed' to preserve or return you to youthful looks and abilities. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good.
But wait. Do you really want to keep 'turning back the clock'? Do you really want to avoid working at the most important role in a family, a community and in the world? What role? Why, being a figure of WISDOM. Being someone free enough to love everyone, even the 'unloveable'. Being free enough to love even persons we do not like. .
This sort of loving has been a traditional role for elders. It is a role that only those who have been through a lot...those who've experienced and come to terms with various failings of body and/or mind. Undergoing such life experiences can lead to wisdom (or to empty bitterness). I encourage YOU to choose wisdom.
Marcus AureliusMany of you know, I am a philosopher by trade. The type of philosophy that attracted me to this profession was the kind practiced in ancient times - the kind that gave name the profession its name : Phil (love) Sophia (wisdom). .
I know that new forms of philosophy arose during the 16th century and much of contemporary philosophy is about 'winning arguments', 'shooting down opponents' etc. But for me the ancient wisdom tradition remains important.
This month I would like share part of that tradition: Marcus Aurelius', Meditations.
This is a powerful work. It offers an example of one of the great tasks of Elderhood: reflection on our lives and seeing 'the good that came from these lives'. . Yes, the good....always the good. .
Inexperienced persons often think that only pleasant things can be 'good experiences'. But as we age, we come to realize many of the most prized human virtues such as patience, perseverance and even love are only learned if we have something requiring patience and perseverance. We learn to love when we meet someone who tests our ability to love; someone who calls upon us to expand and deepen our practice of love. .
If you are lucky. If... as the ancients would say, if 'the gods favor you', you will have many such experiences in your life. My hope is that you will be able to see such experiences for what they are: OPPORTUNITIES. Opportunities to practice...opportunities to hone your skills of perseverance, of love and yes, even of wisdom.
So, this month I offer you a gift....one of the best I can offer. May it help you transform your being...may it help you find ever more joy and meaning as you age. .
I encourage you to read...and reread Marcus Aurelius's Meditations. Don't rush through it - or if you do, then come back and begin to read it as the author intended...just a few paragraphs at a time. Read and reread the same paragraphs. Read it aloud if you can. That is how the ancients read. .
When Marcus Aurelius mentions the names of some Romans, substitute names from your own life - substitute the names of those who 'fit' the descriptions. Then read it again....and again. Try reading it every night for a week. .
My hope is that Marcus Aurelius will do for you what he has done for me. I discovered his work when I was quite young. I found a copy at a library book sale. It was as small book... cost less than a dollar. But this book is one I 'rediscover' in my library about once a year. And I am always better for having reread it.
The book is available on line. I encourage you to read a few paragraphs each day. (If you do not work in an office, read the words OUT LOUD - that is the way the ancients read. They heard - - listened to the words as well as seeing them as they read. .
My hope is that Marcus Aurelius will speak to you as he has spoken to so many others. That he will show you how to rethink your own life, so you too can write a set of Meditations - meditations that will help you to EMBRACE the your life and SEE wisdom hidden within it.
Go to: The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. http://classics.mit.edu/Antoninus/meditations.1.one.html
Be well, be happy and may you find Marcus Aurelius a good teacher and companion as you seek to be wise.
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