I’m in my 70s now and just can’t ignore the fact I’m getting older. Like most folks, I dreaded aging and thought growing old was the end of the line—game over, pack it up and go home. . .then wait for the inevitable. Not much to look forward to.
But now that I’m here, I’m having a very different experience. I’m fascinated by the journey of aging, excited by the potential this stage of life offers–it’s like looking into the eyes of a cobra.
For one thing, I never imagined I would realize my most cherished dreams in old age. And I certainly never thought it would be this much fun! Instead of being less than my younger self, I am stronger and more grounded than before. With the added value of great sex and philanthropic projects, my life is full and rich. This is maybe the best time of my life. Here’s why:
1. I am a kinder person
I am less critical of myself and others, which extends to my friends and family who very much appreciate the older, mellow me. Being compassionate is more important than having things. Thankfully, I am also less competitive. Flow, harmony, and loving kindness get me through the world now, and I am so much happier.
2. The freedom of it
For the first time in my life, I am free to be the person I always wanted to be. Wife of noted psychologist Erik Erikson, Joan Erikson wrote, “Aging is the process of becoming freer.” I would add that old age is the time we can come home to ourselves.
3. Saving the world is not my responsibility anymore
It’s not that I’ve given up trying, but the suffering of the unfortunate weighs less heavily on me. I understand now that to do my best is enough. What’s ironic is I accomplish more now with ease than I did when I was working much harder at it.
4. Enjoy my children more
Now that my children are adults, I can relax. As much as I want their lives to be perfect, I realize that thinking I know better and telling them how to live their lives is arrogant and creates dependency. So, I let them be who they are, and we get along much better now.
5. More effective in my profession
Maybe it’s the 40+ years of being a clinical psychologist, but I have the clarity of vision to identify what is essential. In this way, I help people move to solutions more easily. My work is shamanic these days, more subtle as well as more efficient.
6. Kicked the hurry habit
This is such a relief! I exhausted myself rushing around doing what I imagined were important things. Now, however, I realize very little in day-to-day life is worth hurrying for, and many things pass on their own. The rest can wait.
7. Really good friends
Can you believe I have grammar school reunions? We hold each other in such sweet regard. I chat about everything with other friends—and I mean everything! The pretense, posturing, and competition are gone, so I have relationships that feed my deep-rooted needs for connection and belonging.
8. Being sex-positive
Being sex positive is not directly related to aging, but it’s taken me this long to get here! It means I have a positive relationship with sex, think of it much like eating—enjoyable, necessary, what bodies do. I do not believe being a sexual woman in her 70s is shameful. In fact, I believe sensuality and loving sex are essential to keep us feeling young and staying healthy as we age.
9. Sex is better
Much, much better. The days of dissociating during sex are gone because it’s easier for me to stay present—and easier to orgasm, which I finally learned how to do in my 60s. A late bloomer perhaps, but with less pressure to perform (and added playfulness), sex is more erotic, orgasmic, and satisfying for me than ever before.
10. The buffer is gone
I used to be able to bounce right back, all that youthful energy like money in a savings account would carry me. Not much wiggle room now, so I experience the consequences of who I am and what I do almost immediately. My life is winding down, which means no future bailout or even palliative care will save me now. Although sobering, I prefer to live with this level of honesty.
After all these years of trying to meditate, I believe I have finally settled down enough to begin to meditate. I’ll never be great at this because I’m an action-oriented person. But I have become more thoughtful and quieter, which is a blessing.
12. I am fully alive
Strange as it may seem, the older I get, the more alive I feel. I’ve shifted from thinking my way through life to moving toward what feels congruent and harmonious to me. Gone (almost) is fear-based worrying, evaluating, comparing, and judging. In (almost) is accepting life as it is and flowing with it. I’ve learned to love and appreciate myself. Gotta say life is much richer this way.
13. I can truly give now
It wasn’t until my 60s that I became philanthropic. I just didn’t have the heartfelt calling to give back before then. Now, I take action to stop violence against women and children in ways I never imagined possible when I was younger. I’m accomplishing the most meaningful work of my life right now—and I’m supposed to be staying home nursing my aging body and failing mind. I DON’T THINK SO!
14. Finding the love of my life
Well, I saved the best ’til last–in all ways I apparently. I’d given up ever finding the person I could truly love and who would love me back in all the ways I wanted. But amazingly we found each other when I was 70. Who would have thought such sweet surrender possible at my age!
It may be that aging is the hero’s journey, an adventure of epic proportions that we navigate with our inner stars to guide us.
But don’t take my word for it! If you’re lucky, you’ll live long enough to get your chance at this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. This Third Chapter has the greatest potential for personal transformation and being the richest chapter of our lives. It can be the time we finally come home to ourselves and connect most genuinely with ourselves, others, and the divine.
What is your favorite part of aging? Let us know in the comments below!