Awe, Gratitude, Equanimity = Skillful AGEing
We don’t have to be old or aging to experience the expansive shifts in perspective that come from moments of awe – a glorious sunset, the sparkling shimmer of sunlight on a lake, a tiny wildflower hiding in the grasses. We certainly don’t have to be old or aging to experience the openness and lightness of heart that comes from moments of sincere, wow-am-I-blessed gratitude – a child or a puppy jumping up to be held in our arms with joyful smile or wagging tail. It is somewhat easier to cultivate equanimity with enough experience and perspective gained from riding the ups and downs of life to know that life is full of ups and downs and that our job is to accept, tolerate, and even embrace the wisdom of that.
It was during one of those round birthdays that I realized the acronym of my daily practice for years – Awe, Gratitude, and Equanimity – could also mean AGE and the process of age-ing – sage-ing gracefully. Daily practices of Awe and Gratitude do lead to Equanimity, and the larger perspective of that equanimity allows me to at least try to hold all of the gains and losses of the passing years, all the delights and diminishments, the growing wisdom and the sometimes deepening foolishness, with deeper wisdom and acceptance.
I take it all seriously, and I hold it all lightly. – Andy Dreitcer, co-director of the Center for Engaged Compassion at Claremont School of Theology
Then there’s the more practical side, the nitty gritty that matters the most when head-to-toe with growing older and the horizon of the end-line moving closer and closer.
I do try to be a conscious and conscientious person in most things that matter most. So I was relieved that A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death was published this past July 2019.
With chapters like “Don’t Leave a Mess” followed by “Leave A Mark”, it validates the From Age-ing to Sage-ing process I posted about last week.
It also is the most comprehensive, detailed, step-by-step plan for preparing for the deaths inevitable in living, our own, that of a loved one, anyone whose circle of support includes us.
* Clean out your attic, physical and emotional: tell your loved ones what matters the most
* Write a will, write an ethical will, write your story
* Do all the paperwork: do it, do it, do it now, well ahead of time
* Save for end-of-life as well as retirement. Conscious conscientiousness
And much, much more. Constructively coping with illness, talking about illness, recruiting caregiving, caring for the caregivers, etc. A wealth of wise support, even heartfelt buoyancy in facing what we will ever need to be most resilient about. A Beginner’s Guide to the End is sure to become a best-seller among baby-boomers or anyone intimately involved with a baby-boomer. And its lessons are relevant to all.
I’m celebrating another birthday the week I post this. One more year into the adventures of living fully, practicing Awe, Gratitude, and Equanimity, and cultivating the inner strength, peace and resources to face dying gracefully. Not at all imminent as far as I know, but that’s the point, we don’t know. Conscious conscientiousness: one of the building blocks of resilience.