Back in the 1960s, it was “go with the flow,” remember? Go with the flow.
Resistance is futile, said the Borg on Star Trek, as they began to assimilate an alien race.
I’m not a horseback rider, but even I know that it’s virtually impossible to get anywhere if we try to ride a horse in a different direction than it’s going. It’s hard work, wasted energy and we make no progress. And going with the flow makes for a smoother path down the river, doesn’t it? To row against the flow–who wants to row that hard? As far as the Borg are concerned, well, far be it from me to disagree with them.
My reading on aging and mortality these days points out that some things in life are inevitable–like getting older and all that goes with it. Here’s the blunt truth: we can spend our life savings on cosmetic procedures, color our hair and exercise until our muscles become sinew–but we’re still going to get old and die. That’s the nature of things.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do all we can to have a wonderful quality of life while we’re here. But some of the desperate attempts to hold on to youth I’ve seen in women my age remind me of trying to ride a horse backwards: lots of wasted energy and the outcome doesn’t change. We’re still in the same place we were when we started.
In a book on conscious aging called Still Here, Ram Dass points out that the declines that come with aging are a gift, really, built in by the Divine to give us the time to sit back and observe, really be with the world around us and draw closer to God by being rather than doing. Our striving days are over, and now, we’ve earned the time to just look and think, to be both witness and participant.
I’ve written before about midlife women who bemoan their so-called invisibility…what they are really bemoaning is the life shift that comes with aging. Their fear is palpable. Life is different and they don’t want it to be. But resistance is futile.
Ram Dass, himself, walks the talk. He suffered a debilitating stroke almost 20 years ago and has been living with it–dependent on caretakers–all that time. He’s had to gracefully give up the things he once took for granted, like mobility and effortless speaking and writing. As a New Age guru, I’m sure he was surrounded by young, nubile, adoring acolytes, but in this new life, he’s learned that sexuality has to take a back seat. He looks at that not with a sense of loss, but as a gift that allows him to focus on other things.
Would we be as graceful with that kind of life change? Probably not, given that just plain old aging throws many of us for a loop.
And yet, there’s no way to change the outcome. We are all going to get old and die. So why not go with the flow? Take the time and energy we now have and draw closer to the Divine.
Ram Dass tells us that life is more comfortable when we embrace this stage of our lives. We still have much to offer the world. It’s just not the same stuff as when we were young.
“Wisdom,” he writes, “is one of the few things that does not diminish with age.”