This I have gleaned
from multiple conversations with wise elders—
not just the wry, explicit word I’ve heard from so many now,
“Growing old is not for the weak or faint of heart,”
but also the sense that in our old age
we pay for the life we’ve lived—
the physical toll of our body’s work and play,
the daily wear and tear of a lifetime of days,
and the emotional toll—
all payment due for having lived long
and ventured to spend one’s self fully.
But in conversation with one wise woman,
the vital importance was clear
of remembering the joy—
the savor of what was.
So I know how I want to prepare for aging.
The questions are simple.
What are the memories I want to have,
and am I making them?
Because I want to store up
the kinds of memories that will sustain me—
the experiences rich and full enough—and wide enough in scope,
the relationships deep enough,
and diverse enough too,
to bear a present without them—a future beyond them.
There will come the day
when we all sift through our memories
to mine a living from the one we lived.
So instead of worrying about what presents to buy this year,
invest yourself in presence—
that we might gift each other—
not with things,
but with the quality of experience
that will fill full our present and fulfill our future—
that will save today to redeem tomorrow.
It’s a way of paying forward.
It’s a way of investing.
It’s a way of providing for our future.
To live and love big enough
not just for today,
but for tomorrow too.
And just like some places become so-called “thin places,”
may we grow into being “thin people”—
ever more transparent, to ourselves as to others—
transparent to the most important we’ve known.