An excerpt from Courageous Aging: Your Best Years Ever Reimagined
Chapter 6 – The Industry of Aging: Pop Culture, Wrinkle Cream, and Annuities
In this culture that hides from, denies, and avoids the very facts of aging and death, we often hear a powerful negative message when we experience even the slightest signs of decline: that it’s time to fold up the tent. Our value as human beings is diminishing. Having gone out of season, we’re being relocated from Nordstrom to Nordstrom Rack.
Without knowing it, and oftentimes well before we’re truly sick, we buy into these messages—and devalue ourselves. We no longer look, feel, or act like the world around us wants us to look, feel, and act. We’re no longer on the upward trajectory that used to substantiate our worth and existence. Our “kids” are now adults occupied in their own busy lives. As these changes happen, we may, consciously or unconsciously, start to feel that we’re no longer useful, that we no longer serve a purpose. And we slowly start to shut down the burners that are our life force.
What’s deeply important to the process of courageous aging is that you set the terms for yourself. Stop buying into the subliminal messages of a culture that devalues you as you get older. Stop listening to what other people say you should do. Tune in to yourself and set your own (life-affirming rather than negating) terms.
Go back to the vision that you’ve crafted for yourself [from the self-audit included in book]. That’s your road map. A new template for a new season of life. If you dream of biking through France as part of this new season of life, give a gift to your future self by going out for morning walks each day to keep yourself limber for the adventures ahead.
The package deal of life affirms life in all its phases, whereas the socially sanctioned industry of aging tells us to look like a “forever young” twenty-year-old or else to pack it in. Being able to embrace life as a package deal is an honest reminder that we get older, year by year. We are a work in progress and that’s OK. Courageous living and aging is an invitation to live boldly—whatever that might mean to you—all the days of your life.
Breaking old habits of denial and embracing life as a package deal frees us to enjoy life as never before. Dealing with the seemingly unavoidable aches and pains of getting older, from bad knees to broken hearts, presents a different kind of challenge. Let’s now explore effective ways of meeting, overcoming and even surrendering to those kinds of challenges.
Ken’s new book, Courageous Aging: Your Best Years Ever Reimagined, will be in bookstores October 3, 2017 and is available for pre-order now on Amazon.