It seemed quite natural the other day when sports superstar Kobe Bryant, 35, ruminated about growing older in the context of referring to a fashion legend. Bryant's remark is in a New Yorker interview with Ben McGrath. He said: "Giorgio Armani didn't start Armani until he was 40. Forty! There's such a life ahead."
Indeed there is. Yet happiness itself, like sunbeams in the morning or sea waves at the shore, is elusive. We can't grab hold of it, lock it up, and save it for a rainy day. But in the process of aging there are certain things we can clearly do. Stay hopeful. Emphasize positive factors and possibilities. Relate to other people honestly and openly. Seek help to uncover the wounds and heal them. Maintain a sense of humor. Recognize we all have bodies, minds and souls. Try to balance and integrate them into wholeness.
In addition, be as practical, hard-nosed and systematic about achieving happiness as we can. Go to workshops. Attend classes. Keep a journal. Place trust in such things as serendipity, magic, chance, energy, prayer and holy grace. In fact, learn how to stop trying and start being.
Aging appears as the newest and most challenging reality in American life. Everyone is touched by it in one way or another. Here, someone has broken her hip. There, a beloved family member has moved into assisted living. Alzheimer's is a growing reality. The landscape of our national life is being transformed by this sea change.
Hope is all over the place. The very instinct to go on living is perhaps our best ally. This pumps adrenalin. It stirs spirit. It beckons to life. I like what playwright-cum-filmmaker James Broughton had to say about getting involved in life: "When there's nothing you can do about anything, do everything you can." Exactly. In other words, don't withdraw. Instead become an active part of something or someone that needs you.
I look forward to writing our new blog on aging. Let's be active instead of passive. Let's make a difference.
I look forward to sharing your thoughts on aging.