Zen and the Art of Aging

Zen and the Art of Aging


I was talking to a friend the other day. Like most of us she has way more problems in her life than she’d like to have, frankly more than her share. But, who is to say what a fair share is? What may be devastating to one person may be a roll in the hay to another. I do not welcome upheaval in my life but if I have learned anything I’ve learned that the hardships I have faced have made me a better person and my life far richer than I imagine it might have been otherwise.


Most of my life I fought these hardships. I hated the way I felt and worked really, really hard at not feeling that way. I worked hard on myself to fix me; fix my attitude, my unhealthy thought patterns, my choices, my appearance, my interactions with people and the world, etc. I looked to therapists, medication, careers, a man, religion and anything else I could think of to help me  find the inner peace I so desperately sought.

I don’t know whether it was age, chronic failure to achieve this peace of mind, hormones or just dumb luck but at some point in recent years I’ve grown into a profound awareness of how doomed to failure such an approach is, and always will be. We are taught from the day we are born to achieve, to improve, to work hard at life. The basic premise of this attitude is that we need fixing and lots of it! Apparently we don’t arrive on this earth in very good form! We must kneel at the altar of some higher power and ask for forgiveness as soon as we can walk and then hobble along to the finish line using all the external support we can get!

Hog wash! (Choice of words is evidence of my grandfather’s influence on me. ) We were perfect when we were born, always were and always will be. We are perfectly human. What we have needed, and most of us still need, is to not work harder at changing ourselves, but to be more Zen-like, and go with the flow, trusting ourselves and our inner guide. “Let it Be”…maybe that’s why John Lennon’s song resonates so deeply with us. Somewhere in the dark recesses of our souls, we know the truth of these simple three words.

We have everything we need right inside of ourselves. Everything! If we didn’t pick up a book, kneel at an altar, or bow before the gods of our cultural mandates, we would find all the resources necessary to arrive at our very own version of inner peace, in the human sense of the word. In fact, I have begun to believe that as children we knew inner peace (again in the human sense of the word). It was just taken away from us by the world we encountered.

So, the question remains, did I have to live fifty something years to come to this place in my life or is it something that is instinctual? I knew these things when I was fifteen, probably younger but I was drawn away from them over and over again. It seems I did not trust the simplicity of the answers I held. I did not trust myself…I did not trust the truth that lived in me. I would like to believe that in a differently shaped culture, the odds of getting here sooner and locking in deeper are indeed possible.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was one of my favorite books when I was 19.

The Art of Aging is one of may favorite pages on Facebook! Thank you Sophie Lumen for all you do.

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