Strategies for Aging
Is it better to “Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.”
Or is better that we:
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
“Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them” might sound like it applies mainly to martial circumstances rather than our attitude to back pain.
Under the right circumstances a graceful surrender may hold just as much nobility as opposing overwhelming forces until we no longer have the strength to stand.
But what are the “right circumstances” for a graceful surrender? And when is it better to exert ourselves to change something?
“May God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
The wisdom to know the difference.
The crux of the matter is finding discernment about what we have the power to change and what we don’t.
With this strategy we need both the qualities of graceful surrender and we need courage. But above all we need some clarity on when to apply the strategy of acceptance and when to apply the strategy of courageous change.
Where do we find that clarity? Where is the guidance on what potential we should aspire to?
Will our doctors tell us to challenge ourselves? Will the family members who have faced old age before us have the wisdom to guide us?
Personally, knowing how human beings get stuck in patterns of dominant logic and group think I would rather be guided directly by God, or by peer reviewed science, but not by anyone’s interpretation of either one.
Perhaps my main point today is that when we are considering our capabilities and our potential, particularly as we age, whether we have articulated it to ourselves or not, we are making a choice. That choice is between accepting what we find, or applying ourselves to change it.
In order to change something, it’s necessary to believe that change is possible.