“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Still Here, Embracing Aging, Changing and Dying is a joyful read and a revelation as Ram Dass encounters identical moments we all experience way over 70. It’s liberating to know we are not alone in our observations and personal struggles with the ravages of time.
It seems we all experience the horror revealed by unexpected encounters with our reflection………..yikes, who’s that old ninny staring at me? And we become exhausted from the simplest activity in comparison to what used to be. Ram Dass told an elderly friend she needed to put “lying down” on her list of things to do instead of fretting over lack of energy to accomplish her wish list .
It is not aging that creates our suffering but how the mind deals with the world’s vision of us and how we handle the physical changes that occur after 70. We suffer from what Ram Dass calls philosophical materialism which limits reality to what we perceive with our senses: if we can’t see it, smell it, taste it, hear it, feel it, then it doesn’t exist. But eternity has always worked with fabrications, or as Einstein discovered Energy = Mass and vice-versus. We need to look at reality from as many angles as possible and hold on to what makes us feel good. If it works use it, if not let it go and create another reality. It works; I’ve been doing it for decades.
Nothing will ever be as it was in past decades; let go of worn out dreams and longings for the past to return. Ram Dass recommends mindfulness meditation which focuses on breath as the method for inner directed journeys which facilitate living in the moment. Achieving moment to moment reality is a marvelous pursuit and quite difficult to sustain but more than worth the effort.
Mindfulness is a simple process that demands total concentration. Ouspensky writes of this aspect in In Search of the Miraculous when he describes Gurdjieff’s lesson to monitor every movement and observation on the walk to his studio for class. Stepping left foot, right foot; seeing the tree, the sidewalk. was usually forgotten as passing dramas captured the way. They would forget the task at hand – sometimes for days – and suddenly wake-up realizing the moment to moment objective had been forgotten.
Ram Dass recommends conscious aging with deeply involved meditation on the impermanent nature of all material life and non-attachment toward the body and all change in the material world. No need to worry about the past or dread the future. When we stay in the moment we are free from the Ego’s desire and in touch with our soul-energy’s journey. Buddhism teaches the master class in impermanence. You might want to check it out and be sure to read Still Here.