Aging is like a sharp edged paring device that takes what it wants not necessarily what you would freely give.
Appetites that were voracious or desire-filled fall away like cliffs eroding-sometimes it seems like the losses pile up in geologic time others in cataclysmic wrenching’s.
For example-I was nearly 300 pounds as a young adult not by eating lettuce leaves and tidbits of tiny portions but with an unbridled enjoyment of fat, sugar and anything tasty. Years of more subtle pleasures lead to a relationship to food that is nuanced, pastel colored not bolds.
Every substance that seemed worth overdoing has become a new matter that age pares away.
It’s not that my imagination about the sense-world is any less interesting-thank god or goddess that I remember what I liked looking at, smelling, touching, tasting and hearing-these all remain vivid in both image and response but the desire to have them, to own them to possess them are gone. All that remains turns out to be the instantaneous experience of contact with the object of the pleasures and then off to the next experience.
Age pares away the need for ownership.
Another striking aspect of how age cuts chaff from wheat is what becomes nurturing as we age.
There were so many media and entertainment modes that were appealing before but now they don’t seem to make me feel much of anything. And why, if you know truly in your gut and heart that you don’t have all the time in the world would you waste time on a TV show that leaves you anxious or depressed or watch sad, lonely people battle over survival on a piece of inconsequential real estate when in reality it will not make the slightest difference in the quality of your life how it turns out.
Aging is a fine sheet of sandpaper, Emory cloth buffing the lines and angles of what is left by life’s harsh chisel and at the end of the day when it is almost night what do you want to feed you-that which leaves you inspired and glad to be still breathing or that which makes you question the validity of the life you have chosen to lead and all that remains for you is muddling to the end?
I chose very carefully what I let into my sight, ears, mind and heart. I have a dual litmus test: is it good in the beginning and middle and at the end am I more alive or less?
Maybe high standards but then again I am not one to waste time.
Elad Levinson LCSW is a psychotherapist in private practice in Petaluma. He is relatively new to Sonoma County, but was one of the first students at SSU in 1964 when it was temporary classrooms and library. He loves volunteering and is active with Petaluma Bounty, PPSC and MentorMe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org