The Longevity Challenge
One of the ironies of life is that on the one hand you may want to live long, while on the other hand you are afraid of longevity. Getting old is a new experience: it is quite different from what you imagined when you were young. You don’t know what getting old is really like until you have become old.
To many, longevity may not be a blessing because there are many challenging thoughts that come with longevity.
Physically, you will have aches and pains and short breaths if you live long enough. But it is what you think about what you are experiencing when you are getting old that really matters to you. It is always Getting old makes you confront the big questions of self-enlightenment, of life’s deeper meanings, and, inevitably, of death itself. Ruminating these questions may become a daily challenge; it is always a matter of mind over matter.
You may still be in good health and in good shape. However, back in your mind, there lurks the challenging thought that everything will not continue the way it is indefinitely: at some point in time your health will deteriorate, and with its deterioration, everything in your life may fall apart. It is this challenging thought of unwelcome changes arriving suddenly and without warning that unnerves you. Suddenly, you are confronted with the naked truth that all that remains in your life is nothingness, except death, which will turn you into nothingness.
In life, you have opened as many doors as you have closed. You may have the challenging thought that this may be the one final door you will open, and then it will be closed on you for good.
Another challenge of getting old is retirement. Many have deferred their retirements for as long as they possibly can. Retirement is not for everybody. For many, the career itself has been all their dreams and goals, and there has been little life beyond their jobs. There is a saying: “The more of a somebody you once were, the more difficult it is to revert to being a nobody.” If you happen to be one of these individuals, retirement is rude awakening. Retirement is adding insult to the injury of getting old.
No matter what, the challenging thoughts of longevity may be overwhelming to many. To distract yourself from these challenging thoughts of having to live long, take the following advice:
(1) Appreciate your life—each day is precious to you. Live in the present moment.
(2) Count your blessings—look in perspective at every problem related to longevity.
(3) Spend more time close to nature—watch the clouds, the sunrise and sunset; listen to the wind, and the sound of water lapping against the shore.
Learn to meditate. Meditation not only relaxes your body and mind, but also presents insight into the meaning of longevity. Learn the simple techniques of meditation.
Longevity may be challenging, but you will be able to cross the bridge when you come to it.
Copyright © 2018 by Stephen Lau