What is the purpose of aging?

What do we do with ourselves when we wake up to the press of time? When one’s physical abilities to excel are largely past? When one’s chance to “be somebody” through one’s children is no longer an option? When one’s opportunity – if not root desire – to make a million bucks has slipped by?

What are we left with? We are left with whoever we are at the core of our beings. We are left with the innate capacities we were born with that define our identities and inform our purpose. Touch these things and we light up. Liberate them and we and others cheer. For the value we now create is real, springing from our authentic selves, manifesting itself in unassailable integrity, showing itself as pure a form of love as any human being could hope to express and be rewarded for in return.

What is the purpose of aging? It is to, finally, leave us with no choice but to strip away the assumptions, expectations and artifices of youth we wrap ourselves in, in the first half of our lives.

Aging supposedly makes us wiser. But it isn’t about wisdom alone – either getting it or sharing it. Aging is about expression: the possibility of expressing the best of ourselves to the benefit of others. Aging strips us of our conventional armor, the comfortable insulation of traditional 9-5 jobs, growing families, late night parties. We have nowhere left to turn but inside ourselves.  We are, in a sense, naked – not necessarily to others, but to ourselves. Aging amounts to one’s last great shot at fulfilling one’s potential as a unique, value-creating individual.

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Flickr photo by AlicePopkorn AttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved

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