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Reflections August 2012

“60 & Beyond” Quintessential Finishing School

Less Is More

By Peggy Henderson

Regarding age, the one thing we know is that our bodies will decline and no matter how many nips and tucks we may be able to afford, the body will let us know when it's our time to cross the finish line. Once we totally accept our imminent death, we crafty seniors can concentrate on what really matters, and that's today.

There's no easy rules for successful aging as there's no easy rules to eradicate an addiction. Each day an individual strives to make his or her own way. The uncertain journey winds through peaks and valleys of decisions based on personality traits and cultural family background. And, who's to judge what path is THE answer?

Regarding age, the one thing we know is that our bodies will decline and no matter how many nips and tucks we may be able to afford, the body will let us know when it's our time to cross the finish line. Once we totally accept our imminent death, we crafty seniors can concentrate on what really matters, and that's today.

High on my list of importance is that my relationships with my family and friends remain in a state of reciprocal pleasure just being around each other. I'm not asking for the moon, and so far, so good. This means: No obligatory responsibilities. No strings attached promises. No grand drama for drama's sake. Above all, unconditional love.

I've been pondering the issue of living in harmony with myself and others I love. A universal ponder. The idea that positive senior living is an art form appeals to me rather than stuffy, pragmatic principles. I don't want to revisit my school days. Remember the "do this or else?" I confess that I prefer creative options that offer a sense of freedom rather than how-to manuals that offer sketchy solutions. But of course this is the catch-22, I've always wanted my cake and chocolate icing too.

By happenstance, I've discovered that one option is to practice the adage “less is more.” To avoid unnecessary conflicts, I attempt, more times than not, to bite my tongue. Actually I was born with red hair and with the red came along a rosy temper. As we age, it's natural to slow down and live more measured lives. Gleefully, we own more time than our adult children. This gives us the opportunity to use our measured time wisely. For example, before we expose our mind to the public or private arena, we can choose our words carefully before we allow our irretrievable views escape our lips.

The message less is more means: resist the impulse of being daily involved with family members. I believe that the motto, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" works. Don't give sage advice unless asked. Be consistently authentic.

This self-serving discipline is more of a headache than a challenge for me because I egotistically like to entertain the thought that someone might actually value my opinion.

An unhealthy dialogue begins with: "As your mother I feel that I must.... " Being a close friend you should be aware of.... " "Nana loves you but.... " The silly irony is that 99 per cent of the time, the recipient of your advice is NOT listening to you. They are itching to pull out their Smartphone. It could be a generational issue, or worse, just the boredom of it all.

By the way, the same message applies to one's spouse. They appear to be listening to you about your lunch with Martha, but dare to suggest something that might interrupt their comfort zone and watch them zoom into focus.

In closing, the good news is that as we practice the skills of reticence, I'm convinced that improved communication will enrich our lives. We don't have to do anything. Just sit back, relax and let life play itself out.

That is about as good as it gets.

 

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