My Older Friend

July 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog

A friend of mine who is in his 70s is visiting from New York.  He’s a funny and smart man and he’s known me for quite some time.

Unlike our society, I do like having older people as friends.  They’ve been there and done that and so they are a good source for life questions.

We had two major topics for last night’s dinner conversation.  The first was about aging. He said as you age you toughen up, pain doesn’t cut as deep.  By the time you get to your 70s you’ve had many losses and you’ve learned to protect yourself otherwise you couldn’t survive.  You also learn to differentiate from real pain and made up pain.

Still within the same topic of age, he continued on to say that you also start to face your own mortality as your friends start to die and so you become more protective of yourself.  You realize you don’t have as much time as you used to have and so your time and your energy become a little more for yourself; to do the things that are really important to you.

He also said he was happier now than he was when he was younger.  That caught me by surprise as usually we all look back with teary eyes to when we were younger and prettier.  So I asked him what he meant.  He said he was less anxious.  He now gave himself permission to relax and not try to occupy every single moment of his life with something to do.  He realizes now he could have done that earlier in his life without changing in any way how his life turned out but he didn’t know that then.

My last question on this topic was about dying.  Of course we can die at any age but when you are older even if you still live a long time that long time only means 10-15 years.  He looked at me and said:” You don’t think about it.  If you did you wouldn’t make it”.

We moved on to talk about getting into relationships after losing our partners.  He had been married to a woman for thirty years when she passed away from a heart attack.  Four years later he met a lovely woman, who was also a widow, and they married.

As I’m also a widow I wanted to know how do you make the transition from the sadness of losing someone to loving someone else and he said: “You heart is big enough to hold the memory and the love for the partner that is gone and to love just as deeply a new person”.   My next question was: “Don’t you then compare the two people, the two loves?” “No” he said “if you really love the new person you love them for who they are”.

So from my friend’s visit I’ve learned that maybe I don’t need to wait till I’m in my 70s to take better care of myself and to also give myself the permission to just take some time off and do absolutely nothing.  That doesn’t mean days on end but it means that it is okay to take time every day to just slow down.  I’ve also had it confirmed to me that a heart has the ability to deeply love many different people.  And lastly life is really meant to be lived one day at a time.

Of course not all older folks are as full of life as my friend but he can be an inspiration for younger people.  We can learn from him that life is worth living till the very end.

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