Exchanging Wisdom with My Inner Centenarian

+ Old woman Centenarian Dec 14 blog18656917_sOn the cusp of the New Year, December offers a good opportunity to reflect on the previous twelve months. Sitting by a fire, cup of cocoa in hand, we think back over the wonderful things that happened, remember challenges we met, recall the year’s insights and shifts that helped us grow and evolve. We consider goals and intentions to set for the coming year that will help us further improve our selves and our lives.

This is a thoughtful practice, and all well and good. But, what if we were to take a more dramatic view of our lives than this familiar end-of-year look? What if, as I recently heard suggested, we jumped ahead in time to a vantage point far in the future – or not so far for some of us! – and imagined ourselves at the age of one hundred years old? From there, we pose the question, “What would my hundred-year-old self tell me today?” And then, turning it around, “What would I tell my future hundred-year-old self today?”

When I first heard of this life-question exercise, my hundred-year-old self was quick to speak to me, her message rising up with little forethought. She was brief, and she also spoke in the voice of the Jewish-Buddhist teacher, Sylvia Boorstein, who reports using a pet name, “Sweetheart…” when she talks to herself. So, my hundred-year-old self (in her Sylvia voice) told me what she wanted me to know:

Sweetheart! You’re taking this all way too seriously! Lighten up and get over yourself! It really doesn’t have to be as hard as you’re making it out to be.

Hearing off this wisdom, I had to laugh. My Future Self knows me so well! This was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment – or any time. Though I’m not an overly serious person in general – I have a pretty positive attitude and I love to laugh and kid around – I do get a little hard on myself sometimes by personalizing disappointments and tending to be self-critical. It makes life feel a little more effortful than necessary.

My Inner Centenarian was spot-on with her advice to me to “lighten up,” and I’ve been recalling this wisdom with delight ever since she spoke it. In fact, just thinking of it brings a smile to my face, which then helps me lighten up! Apparently, it’s working already.

The message going the other direction took more time to come to me. Contemplating what to tell my future hundred-year-old self, I gathered a few thoughts.

One was from my friend, Billy, who used to be an occasional sounding board for me when my parents were both aging rapidly and their health failing. They lived in Ohio, I was in Boston, and I frequently wrestled with myself about going out to visit them – wanting to be with them and to be of help, but also feeling aware of my need and desire to be here for my family and work.

One day, Billy advised me, “Do what you have to do for your parents so you don’t have regrets. You don’t want things to end and feel like you hadn’t done everything you could for them and for yourself.”

This was helpful to me, and I’ve always kept the criteria of not having regrets as an important consideration when making decisions in my life. And, while life will have it’s decisions that could have, maybe should have gone a different way, accepting that the wisdom of hindsight isn’t there in the present moment helps me release regrets that come up later.

So, I’d definitely like to tell my Centenarian Self to let go of any regrets that might be lingering and to acknowledge that I’d done the best I could in each moment throughout my life.

The other thought I had while contemplating what to tell my future self came from a favorite movie, Michael. The archangel Michael (played so very well by John Travolta) lets us know early in the story that angels only get a certain number of visits to come back on earth in physical form. Regrettably, this is his last visit. At one point, Michael looks out over a Midwestern field lying fallow in the early winter, his eyes taking in the earth, the softly lit sky, the trees. Overcome with the countryside’s beauty, and perhaps seeing much more than just what is in front of him, Michael’s voice cracks with emotion as he says, “I’m going to miss everything so much.”

This moves me every time I hear it. Throughout the movie, we’ve experienced Michael’s passion for life – his unconventional-for-an-angel behavior exhibited by his love of laughter, physicality, sugar (Michael has a real sweet tooth) and whatever is happening in the moment. One is left with a strong sense of the richness of experience we’re offered in this lifetime, and I’m always inspired to more deeply embrace the pleasure and satisfaction that’s here to be had.

This is another theme that I want to weave into what I say.

So, future Centenarian Self, here we go…

 You’re a hundred years old…bravo! You’ve lived life with awareness and consciousness, with a sense of fun, and a rich allowance for enjoying and savoring each moment. Good work on lightening up and being kinder to yourself, on letting go of regrets, on noticing the sun’s rise and set.

 Let’s face it, Sweetheart, at a hundred years old, we’re transitioning out of this lifetime. Be prepared – releasing our physical body may not be a day at the beach. It could get messy and uncomfortable, to say the least. But hold on, stay the course.

Because, once we’re done with this exhilarating and confounding physicality, we’ll be back fully in Essence and it’ll be easy and grand – limitless, unbounded, pure love. No fear, no confines. Glorious.

Meet you then, and thanks for everything. It’s been a magnificent ride!

Comments

  1. This was a lovely and moving piece, as always, and something I suspect I’ll be thinking about. My first instinct right now was to want to apologize to my centenarian self, for not doing enough, or not doing things right – but I suspect she would say to me just what yours said; to lighten up and enjoy myself.

    • Spiral Energies says:

      Thanks for your response, Laura. I agree – your Inner Centenarian probably needs no apologies and would just want you to live consciously, and without regrets. It’s such a rich perspective to hold our lives with lightness and enjoyment!

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