HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 23, 2015 – 12:00am
No, this is not a column for some society magazine. This is not about fashion or lifestyle in the sense that glossy magazines handle them.
This article is about living everyday life with enough grace, meaning and effort to make being alive worthwhile. I would like to state clearly, though, that I am writing this as a 60-plus-year-old man who has lived long enough to hopefully give this article enough substance to be worthy of your time and attention.
People age in many ways. But I notice that while we all age (barring illness or accidents that will make our lives short), we go through our years basically either happy or cranky.
At this age, some will feel that life has passed them by, or that they have missed out on many opportunities and are therefore resigned to an existence of waiting to just get older and eventually die. Some harbor regrets. They say no to most challenges that will take them out of their comfort zones. They are not up to taking new classes, adventures or learning new skills. The spark has long left them and they have narrowed the space where they wish to spend their remaining energies.
But there are others who never seem to want to retire or fade away. They want to continue learning, growing and trying new stuff that will bring out something they have not discovered about themselves or life itself. I must confess that while I belong to this set, it takes effort to fight the inertia and continue to live creatively.
Here are my rules for aging gracefully and living creatively.
Keep as fit as you can.
Former DOH Secretary Alran Bengzon once told me that generally, your body at 40 years old will be the best it can be. Be that as it may, it is not too late. Whatever shape you are in now, it is always good for the body to keep active. Move, walk, run, jump, plank. Go to the gym if you can. Do exercises consistently.
Discover and constantly visit your sacred spaces.
These are the places that make you feel centered and aware of the wonder of your entire being. They are places that make you feel alive, where you are present to yourself and everything else. You need to know where to go to feel reborn and rejuvenated.
Continue to read, study and learn.
Learn a language or a new skill. Do not have a closed mind. Engage in discussion and continue developing your mind with new ideas and new stuff. This is a daily thing.
Begin to look back at how you’ve lived life so far.
Celebrate the good things that have happened. Let go of the bad stuff. You do not need to waste energy keeping the bad stuff alive. Invest in things that pay, not in those that keep you hooked but offer no payback. Move on. Learn to sincerely and unconditionally forgive others and yourself.
Pay it forward.
In your field of expertise and endeavor, look for opportunities to mentor. The wisdom of how you’ve lived is valuable to younger people. I teach part-time and I learn as much from my students as they learn from me.
Live and act appropriately according to your means.
Actually, as I got older, I learned to live with less for myself and with more generosity toward others. I am quickly learning to let go of fluff and non-essential things.
Always remind yourself that you can’t take material things with you when you die.
Everything is perishable except love. I personally believe that when all is said and done it will be the only real enduring thing in the world.
More and more, begin to see yourself in the third person.
You have been thrown into the life circumstances you are in and have made something out of it. This gives you perspective on the themes that have comprised your life so far.
There is also more to how you look at yourself. Discover it. If you can look at yourself objectively, you may stumble upon who is actually doing the looking. This simple discovery can change everything.
Appreciate art in all its authentic expressions.
It cleanses your soul and clears your perception of life.
Take up a hobby or a cause where you can throw your time and passion with great abandon.
The mere commitment to anything that gives you delight and joy is an act of longevity. And if you wish to live long, you might as well live it with meaning and purpose.
When choices are given to you, take the one you haven’t tried. It may turn out to be a great discovery.