When I woke up this morning my shoulder was stiff and aching and one knee didn’t want to work properly. It ain’t easy getting old. As you age the body’s demands seem never-ending. There’s always an ache or pain somewhere, a stiff muscle that doesn’t want to stretch, a swollen joint that doesn’t want to bend, a body that seems heavier this morning than it did last night.
At the same time the body is becoming less obedient, the heart requires more compassion. We have to get used to letting go – of expectations, of opinions, of control. Closed fists must bloom because one by one our fingers will be prized from the things we own, from the people and pets we love, the abilities we value and from the freedoms we cherish.
This letting go of the outward gives us the freedom to roam the interior. We are at leisure to examine our lives, to toss out unkind judgments, forgive others, and finally to release the need for perfection from our own shoulders. We have the freedom to take up hobbies, travel, eat junk food and wear clothes that don’t match.
Some say we’re not as sharp as once we were. While we may not remember if we turned off the stove, we can easily recall our first kiss, remember the faces of our children running through the violets, or recall the blue flowered wallpaper of the family home.
Admittedly, our hearing may not be what once it was but the words we spoke in anger or in love so many years ago still echo in our hearts; we continue to hear the songs we sang in celebration and in solitude.
Then one day we experience the shock of attaining the childhood wish of near invisibility. Like the old Sicilian women wrapped in black shawls sitting on wooden chairs in front of ancient houses, we no longer have to meet exhausting standards in sexual attractiveness. We are no longer expected to climb career ladders, to possess status symbols or wield power. We are no longer seen as significant players in the game.
As our focus becomes less acute, our field of vision widens. When we take off our glasses we see that beauty shines forth everywhere, in beetles and birds and weeds along the road, in old buildings and old dogs and soup simmering on the stove. Even in its horrors, we see that life is resplendent in its creative power that is never-ending and truly benign.
And while our soul is quietly pulling out and examining suitcases in preparation for the journey ahead, we wonder what we will be allowed to take – and what must be left.
“To forgive is merely to remember only the loving thoughts you gave in the past, and those that were given you.
All the rest must be forgotten.” The Course in Miracles