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Aiming High As We Age

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.   Michelangelo

 My new book, Conscious living, Conscious Aging  offers an empowering vision of aging that counters the dominant societal myth that retirement age is primarily defined by disengagement and diminishment, with our years of service and growth largely behind us. 

Conscious aging entails a commitment to address such questions as: What does aging mean to me?  How do I deal with my fears of aging?  How can I find fulfillment and dignity as I age?  What is the purpose of my life after retirement? It is a vision of aging that recognizes there is something very life-enhancing and passion-awakening to aim for as we contemplate the later chapters of our lives; that these years can be a time of deep fulfillment as we reach the pinnacle of our personal and spiritual growth; that these years can be an opportunity for the kind of service to community and sharing of wisdom that, throughout most of human history defined the honored role that cultures accorded their elders.   For those inspired by this vision, conscious aging is a path characterized by meaningful goals for our elderhood that spring from our authentic selves (rather than the images of the society around us), and by our use of the power of intention and inner work to make our sense of what is possible a reality.  It is a challenging path that requires the courage to aim high, bringing awareness and intention to our aging, rather than merely drifting into old age with few if any goals that can bring out the best in us.

This is not just about aiming for lofty goals, however.  Our ability to reach our outer goals is very much dependent upon the state of our inner life and the inner development work we do to bring clear, healthy energy to our lives as we age.  We have all heard the old adage, “wherever you go, there you are.”  There is great value in seriously reflecting on the question, “what kind of a self am I bringing to my later life chapters?” 

The lack of energy, passion and sense of purpose that so many experience in their senior years is not primarily a function of age, but rather of life-draining inner dynamics.  Critical to conscious aging is commitment to inner work to free up our energy and passion by healing old wounds, forgiving resentments, transforming regrets, re-writing disempowering old stories, replacing counterproductive habits with conscious choices, and getting in touch with the spiritual dimension in ourselves from which the visions and goals that are authentically ours –that enable us to aim high—can emerge.

A growing number of baby boomers and well as those beyond their sixties are indeed hearing a strong call from within the depths of themselves to age consciously.  Are you one of them?  What do you plan to do with the remaining chapters of your precious life? If you recognize that call within yourself, I encourage you to respond as if your deepest fulfillment depends upon it and as if the wellbeing of the generations to follow you depends upon the choices you and others make.  Because they do.