Copyright 2016 Linda Ellis
One of my earliest recollections is riding my bicycle past the elderly people sitting in their rocking chairs on the porches of my neighborhood, seemingly content with the world. Even at a very young age, I can remember thinking, “How can they just sit there hour after hour, day after day, rocking back and forth and watching. What are they thinking? Why don’t they get bored?”
Now I am in my fifties, and like many of life's questions I’ve pondered, time has provided the answers. I get it now. I understand that at the time, I was comparing the endless energy of youth to those whose bike riding days were behind them. Perhaps that’s one of the things they were thinking, recalling, as I would pedal past and wave and they would smile and return the gesture. Maybe they were seeing themselves in me…unkempt hair flying, wheels rolling, the freedom of youth passing them by, once again, in the form of a little girl.
The years condition us to become what we never truly comprehended that we would. The experiences we encounter and survive temper our soul, our mind, our heart and our attitude. Time smooths the rough edges of youth’s unrest. Years calm the unpredictable seas of anxiety. Acquired wisdom slowly and subconsciously answers our questions. Patience, we learn, is an acquired skill not present in youth and honed through the years. It is a mental equation that life both challenges us with, and subsequently solves: Understanding + Compassion = Patience.
When I was in my thirties, I began to fret over my rapidly advancing age and the toll it was taking on my appearance. But, as I mentioned, time conditioned me…wrinkle by wrinkle. A line came, I saw it in the mirror every day and thus adjusted mentally. Another wrinkle, another adjustment. Until, surprisingly not reluctantly, I accepted the wrinkles as part of the process. You may think, well she didn’t really have a choice, but it’s more than that. It was an acknowledgment, a recognition, an understanding. It was my turn to recognize the unspoken pact with myself, Father Time and Mother Nature.
We each have our turn to be young, carefree, unencumbered by life’s minutiae. Yet, when that turn morphs into the next phase of life, then the next, we are not shocked, because we realize that we are slowly being inducted. It is the way Father Time and Mother Nature operate, in synchronization. Our journey from bicycles to rocking chairs is their planned progression.
Don’t misunderstand me. I do not relish the idea of relinquishing each turn I am granted to live a specific age. But, I become more conditioned with every passing decade. I no longer fear entering the next phase, because I know I will be mentally prepared, acclimated when that times comes. There is a reason we don’t advance directly from 40 years to 80. It’s because every single year is a fundamental period of time, contributing essential, unique ingredients to our life’s recipe.