Afraid? What do you fear most about getting older? I’ve tip toed around this question because I was unsure of people’s reaction. It’s a tough question with many reactions.
What do I fear the most? I fear the moment I realize life is over and I’m going to die. Will I see it coming? Will I know it’s really the end? Will I freak out? Where will my consciousness go after the beautiful white light? Did I live a full enough life? Will it hurt? Will my death be slow or sudden? Will I die first or will my wife? Will she be OK if I die first? Will I be OK if she dies first?
I think that as long as I have my consciousness, and my ever present, ever pesky little ego, I think I’ll be OK not knowing the answers to those questions. It doesn’t matter if I’m not OK with it, the answers will come when they happen.
After all, wondering about the how and when is pointless. It’s the future and there are a limitless set of possible circumstances. How then can one prepare for the variables of a vast unknown? It’s impossible to know. None of us can see what lies ahead. Fortunately, there is some sort of psychological mechanism within us that shoves that worry way down deep so it won’t bother us. And, we absolutely don’t like anyone trying to dig up that thought and point at it, like me.
The usual response I get when I raise the question what we most fear is either deafening silence or an about-face and “see ya.” It’s like what I felt when my ex used to say, “We have to talk.” (Moon walking away.) Either I am too timid to get into people faces about it, I’m afraid of upsetting them too much, or there really isn’t an interest in becoming more self-aware as a senior. (I know there is interest once I find the right like-minded folks.)
Truthfully, if I didn’t think seniors really wanted to face the end of their lives boldly I wouldn’t be pecking around the Internet attempting to talk with people about it. I’ve got to believe that people around the world are not all that different. Maybe our situations are dissimilar, no, actually our situations are dissimilar, very dissimilar. So how can any discussion about ageing find enough common ground to touch everyone?
It sounds crazy to think that all 8 billion of us actually have things in common, but we do. Rather than focus on the specifics of each individual circumstance (the limitless combinations), if we look at the framework within which we all must live, there is self-awareness, insight, and the possibility of inner peace to gain. The very things needed to combat fear and build ageing poise.
If you separate yourself from the goings on around you, the things happening in the world, in your neighborhood, in your household, you’ll find that you alone stand against this moment in time and the great unknown. We may surround ourselves with other souls, but we live in a very personal world of our own making. Since our thoughts are completely under our control, it isn’t hard to see how to make the here and now the best possible world in which to live.
Fear comes in two forms. The first kind is when life is truly threatened, like when a hungry bear sees you as a solution to that hunger, and the second, all the other fearful stuff we make up in our thoughts. Conquer the second one and you’ll conquer fear.
I’m always open to a having conversation and you are welcome to IM me through Facebook.
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Rick Lelchuk lives in North Central Florida and is the author and facilitator of the Authentic Ageing Workshops. “Suddenly A Senior” Workshop is now available online. His mission is to transform the way we think about growing old to one of awed acceptance and inner peace. (Learn more here.)