16 December 2020
Gifts of Aging & Long Life
Let’s go straight to topic. The following are some of the benefits and
opportunities which came to mind when this idea passed by.
• We get to have many lives in this one lifetime passage.
What a gift it is to be born into this era of human history with so
much to experience. Short as our lives are, we have the expanded
potential to experience more in one lifespan than our brothers and
sisters in any time of recorded history.
Many individuals only live days, months or a few years. But, on
average, humans in this age live almost twice as long as our ancestors,
not that many generations past. From that standpoint alone, most of us
get the equivalent of at least two lifetimes.
As we age, most of us in elder years can look back at that Gift of Long Years.
We can also be thankful for having seen distant lands; beyond the
county or state of our birth. We remember meeting people on home South
Dakota prairie who had not traveled outside of the three counties which
surrounded their abodes. The same thing might be said about numbers of
people who live in big cities.
Communication and transportation of modern times adds to the Gifts of Years.
We have and still can travel to the other side of the state, country,
and world. We can turn on the TV or computer and see in real time what
goes on thousands of miles away. We can speak instantly to friends and
family in distant continents.
The wonders of books and libraries expanded people’s horizons when
Gutenberg developed his printing press in the 15th century. Now,
computers and digital libraries allow for vastly greater possibilities
for study and learning. We can learn and grow until our last days.
All this just described leaves need to mention the large numbers of
people we can meet in a long, modern lifetime. Today, most of us can
and do encounter many times more fellow humans than all but political
persons and royal ones living in cities did in past centuries.
All sorts of opportunities surround us – and lie within us – if we only
take the time to look for them in the midst of the distractions of our
days. Often we don’t even have look for them. The people we meet, the
events in our lives, the places we travel, the books we read can all
help us to recover the wonders of our past years, to right the wrongs
we have done, and help build a better world. To bring the kingdom to
light in our very midst.
So, we get more than one lifetime in this one spent in a busy, advanced society. But, there is more.
• We have much time to review, remember, relearn. We can look over and
moderate our past experiences. Then consider what we have done right,
and what we have done wrong.
An old friend told me long ago, “It’s all practice.” Well, we can
practice humility with regard to the things we have gotten right. For
what we have gotten wrong, we can make direct amends when possible. If
not directly, we can do the process on paper or mentally address ones
we have offended or harmed, living or passed on. All our practice, when
well intended, should lead us to be better beings wherever we find
ourselves after we leave this physical life.
To the writer’s way of thinking, our practice will help us do a better
job as humans in our next lifetimes. Karma and rebirth are a fact in
his thinking and experience.
With long life, we have the extra benefits of recollection and penance.
We can use our extra years to add to our treasures the goodness we have
shared and the benefits of lessons gained from our errors.
• We may, with the help of prolonged years, share our gifts - wisdom, love.
Many will say, “No one will listen to an old wo/man like me.” But, we
believe it depends on time and circumstances. It seems these days that
hardly anybody pays much heed to anybody else.
But, all is cycle and change. When the time is right, any growth we attain will find value to others.
They say, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
Sometimes, it may be just as accurate to stated, “When the teacher is
ready, the student will appear.”
So, we can use our latter, extended years to learn, grow in knowledge,
experience and wisdom. Then, we will be ready to teach whomsoever
appears. Whenever the time occurs.
• We may begin to discover who we really are. Ultimately, life is about learning to love.
Long life gives us many opportunities to learn and study things in the
outer worlds. But especially in this time when we do not have to fend
for daily fare, life also offers us many opportunities to look within
What’s it all about?
What am I doing?
What is the reason for my existence?
Why did my life pass the way it did?
What lies ahead?
Most importantly, we can ask:
Who am I?
The ancient sages long, long ago repeated the great dictum: Know Thyself. If we look deeply within, we may begin to find answers to that wonderful question.
• With this idea in mind, we came up with a simple exercise which may help us to answer this question: Who am I?
If the reader is willing, dig up a few photos covering a spectrum of
your life, something like those before you now. Here, we lay out photos
of the writer, Robert McNary, as an example.
Go from early years to near time and look at the pictures of the person before you. Speak to him or her, if you like.
Then, simply ask the question: Which one of you am I?
You may have a quick response. Rather than sharing our own right now, maybe you will take the time to tell us about yours.
After you have put it in writing, maybe you can add whether this simple
process has had any affect on – Who you think you are. It may be
revealing immediately or bring forth impressions over time.
Comments always welcome at theportableschool at gmail dot com.