Biologically, people are expected to age. It is a natural part of human life. We are born. We are young. We enjoy our youth. Somehow, some (or most) people would like to enjoy their youth longer… and that’s okay. But then there’s nothing much we can do it about our bodies going through their natural, physiological processes. Whether we like it or not, we are all going to grow older and weaker physically.
While studying Nursing, I understood this phase in human life very well. Muscle tissues, when they are young, tend to be stronger and more elastic. The more we use these muscles, the more they lose elasticity and begin to atrophy. This principle is very fundamental and applicable to life as well. As humans, we all have our limits. But before we reach these limits, we have our chances.
Some individuals are lucky enough to make use of everything they have, to naturally be in a state where they are free to do what they want and they do it. Others tend to have things the hard way. Is it because of our choices or our chances?
This evening, my best friend sent me a link to a video taken from one of a series of spiritual talks. The talk was about choices and chances. The speaker mentioned that destiny is not just a matter of chance, but also choice.
Almost everybody knows this already. We are what we do. Our reactions to stimuli dictate the outcomes that form part of the stories we tell about our life. However, the question is: to what extent? How sure are we that our destinies are indeed one hundred and one percent dependent on our choices, on how we make our life? What about the people who were simply born differently, i.e., in a different place, with a different set of body organs, having disorders right at birth, etc.
I’ve always been a believer of the idea that not all questions have answers. But now, growing up, I realize that this idea is incomplete. Maybe it should be: Not all questions have answers that everyone will agree to. But we can always answer any question with our own truths. I believe in subjective truths. No one else can ever say you were lying if it were true for you, only you would know because there is no one like you. This is why, despite whatever circumstances we were born in and have grown up with, we will still always have the choice. Be it a mental, physical, geographical, spiritual barrier, we have the choice to change ourselves by changing our thoughts when we will it. But the only thing we cannot change is the process of aging. In short, we cannot change time.
For chronic procrastinators (such as yours truly), we always think that we have more time. We settle for things we enjoy in the present moment because we think we can make it all happen at the last minute. But destiny is a combination of chance and choice. There are things that may happen that we won’t be able to control and thus render our choice useless. So we look for other options to compensate. There will always be other options to compensate until we run out of them and we realize we’ve been compensating our whole lives because we wanted to save for later what we can do now.
I think the reason why some people are afraid of dying is because they weren’t able to live by choosing. They left everything to chance. They thought there would always be more time. The concept of aging is proof of human limitation– limitations that don’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. We were born by chance, but we could live by choice. Time limits us but it teaches us wisdom. Aging, therefore, is a source of wisdom. It is why we’ve often attributed wisdom to those who are blessed to have reached old age.
Though we cannot will ourselves to be physically young again (as much as most would want to), we are still capable of choosing our thoughts on this matter. We don’t have to regress into doing foolish things. The best thing about growing is learning. Yes, you do have to give up on a few childish practices, but only because you learned that they weren’t right: that they could hurt others or yourself. You don’t have to give up on the things you dreamed about as a child though. Dreaming isn’t only for children. Acting on that dream, on the other hand, is another thing. When you decide to follow your dreams, you awaken a part of your childhood and you acknowledge the rest of your adulthood. You embrace the aging process because it paves the way for your self-fulfillment.
(Featured photo from Tiago Camargo)