In the midst of the pressure and deadlines we are all up against in this effort to line up financing and construction for the start of our redevelopment project, I have gone to our Oregon LeadingAge annual state conference. In the best of times, it can be extremely difficult to dynamite myself out of my office and off of the Rose Villa campus. In these particular times, it was even more so - but as a Board member of the state organization, and also as a speaker at this event, I really had no choice. And, as usual, I have found myself rewarded in unexpected ways.
This morning I was treated to a very inspiring speaker, a social worker with 30 years of experience in senior services, here to talk to us about the upside of aging. She asked the audience to shout out anything they could think of that they had noticed as an improvement as they got older:
- “I’m kinder.”
- “I’m not as quick to judge.”
- “I don’t have to be right every time.”
- “I don’t care what other people think of me.”
- “I know how to really live life every day.”
- “I can let go of my expectations and enjoy other people.”
The list was long and impressive and …true.
The speaker told many stories to prove her point, but she made that point very clearly – that everything about getting older is an upside - except for the physical part. But this is how she said it: The rigors of the body are nothing compared to the freedom of the soul.
The freedom of the soul – what a glorious way to experience aging! What a perfect reward to every one of us who can feel run over by the pressures of the moment, but who work in this field and with all of you as a choice every day. I know that some of you may not realize this (and might not even believe me) but the every day juice that you provide – the strength, bravery, resilience, joy, laughter, compassion, and sheer appetite for life that are a matter of course for you every single day is your actual, ongoing, legacy to the human community. It’s really the only thing that matters.
Oh sure, old age isn’t for sissies. But the rigors of the body are nothing compared to the freedom of the soul.