#30. I’m really scared of getting old.
I turned 31 this year, and it’s been kind of tough realizing that I’m not a total beginner anymore. That adds a lot of pressure. I’m also really scared of the people older than me – especially my parents – eventually dying. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without them right now.
I was inspired to write this response:
I used to be afraid of getting old too. When I was 15, I calculated that I would be 47 in the year 2000. I could NOT imagine it. About the same time, my elegant Russian piano teacher who was 75 at the time, said, “Oh, she was a young woman, about 45.” I thought, “What are you talking about? 45 is NOT young!”
Now I understand. I turned 60 this year. I’m crossing over into the Autumn of my Life. A few health issues are emerging. I don’t have the stamina that I used to have for getting things done. What I’m exploring now are the gifts and benefits of aging. It’s better than complaining and worrying about the future.
Fear of aging is partially the fear of the unknown. What will happen? What will I feel like? What will I look like? How will I cope with losing my loved ones?
I’m a little more wrinkled, my skin is no longer taut, and age spots are appearing, but these things are not important. How important is appearance, really? Not as important as the media would like us to think it is.
Inner growth and development is much more meaningful and beneficial for coping with change. I don’t worry as much about what other people think of me. Even what I think about myself isn’t as important. It’s the spiritual aspects of aging that intrigue me the most. I ask myself: What have I learned? What do I have to share? How can I be of benefit to others? I’m relishing spiritual maturity.
The bottom line is that as long as we are alive we are going to age. It is inevitable. Buddhists acknowledge that the cycle of life includes birth, sickness, old age and death. The key to accepting these events is in the practice of stillness, seeing beyond the illusory nature of change and finding that which is eternal, spacious and blissful.
Parents, friends, and children will die. Absolutely we’ll feel sad about the loss of important people in our lives. By looking right at the emotions, sitting with them, allowing them to exist, we can eventually move forward, even if we don’t want to or believe it’s hardly worth the effort.
Life is magical, ephemeral, transitory, beautiful and also heartbreaking. Every day someone is hurting or suffering. Every day I wonder what can I do to alleviate that suffering. How can I move outside of my self, let go of my ego and embrace my true nature? How can I help someone else to feel less afraid?
Fear arises from the thoughts that ego generates. We identify with these thoughts. Thoughts create reality. Thoughts become habitual and solidify into belief systems. Meditation and awareness practices help us transcend thought. Freedom comes from letting go of these thoughts and beliefs. It’s not easy but it can be done.
So, examine what you think and what you believe to be true. Ask the deeper questions and practice letting go. It’s possible to eliminate the fear and embrace change as it inevitably arises.
Then, maybe, you won’t feel so scared.