Relationship is the fundamental truth of this world of appearance.

Rabindranath Tagore

Whenever we recall a given object or experience, we do not get an exact reproduction but an interpretation, a newly constructed version of the original.

Daniel Tammet

Embracing the Wide Sky

Many of us, if not most, frequently live for appearances’ sake. But successes, like memories, are not always what they appear to be. Indeed, our “appearances” can be illusory and even unimportant.

Our last third of life gives us the opportunity to live, or to be — or at the very least to be aware of — what is really important.

One of the things I am learning about as I age is the importance of relationships and the relative unimportance of appearances. I just might be a good example of the theory of gerotranscendance. (You remember gerotranscendance, right?)

Reality does not always fit our theories. The flat Earth became a sphere, and Newtonian physics has been overtaken by the seemingly unfathomable quantum physics.

Dark matter plus dark energy make up 95 percent of the total mass-energy of the universe and we cannot even see it! 

So much for appearances.

Over and over again, we look back in history, with a condescending smirk, at those who preceded us, chuckling to ourselves at how wrong they were about what we now know to be the “absolute” truth. When will we learn that we, too, are on the same sublimely imperfect journey as our predecessors? What we “know” is often pretty far from the truth. 

So how about a little humility?

What if — in the words of Dr. Bill Thomas — everything we thought we knew about aging is wrong?

Our impatience and disdain for “old people” is both an example of internalized age-ism and an example of what I call “quantum self-hate,” not just because it is only a matter of time before we ourselves act like those “old people” (in one way or another), but more fundamentally because of the interconnectedness of everything — we literally are the “old people,” driving slowly or holding up the supermarket line.

But we are all made of stardust. Everything that ever existed is composed of exploded stellar material.

Aging can help us grasp that we are all members of Team Sapien. Aging is the wedge to help increase our understanding of just how complex reality is, the wedge to help increase our grasp of global, indeed universal, teamwork.

Will we take advantage of the glimpses into empathy that aging offers us?

Don’t forget that Celebrating Seniors week is coming up April 26 through May 3. Lots of informative and educational stuff happening all around town, including a free IONS Conscious Aging Workshop demonstration that I am leading on May 1 at the Yoga Centre, 266 Lake St., Oak Park from 3 to 4 p.m. 

Stop by and say hi.

Marc Blesoff is a former Oak Park village trustee, co-founder of the Windmills softball organization, co-creator of Sunday Night Dinner, a retired criminal defense attorney, and a novice beekeeper. He currently facilitates Conscious Aging Workshops and Wise Aging Workshops in the Chicago area.

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