Each day brings new moments to enjoy
Changing as you age. “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”. Translated into English, Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s quote reads, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
I have always liked this notion, the idea of a core of permanence in a non-permanent, transitory world, but I confess that my understanding of the true meaning of these words continues to evolve as my journey progresses. And yet, for me at least, these words continue to be true.
At the most superficial level, these words might be interpreted as a statement of sarcasm; as in the notion that unless you are the lead dog, the view never changes.
But for me, however, regardless of whether I lead or follow, I always seem to be going somewhere and each day brings new moments to enjoy, and new problems to solve.
Perhaps, however, this is because I have learnt to pay attention to the finer details of my journey. The way that the colours of the sunrise and the formation of the clouds on the horizon are always, at least subtly, different from one day to the next; the way that tomato seedlings spontaneously sprout in the planters outside my front door; the way that I will pass an old friend in the street the very day after I was thinking about them.
In the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig comments on the process of ageing and human evolution as succinctly as anywhere I have seen while recounting a dialogue with his son: “At age 11, you don’t get very impressed with red-winged blackbirds. You have to get older for that.”
He might have stopped writing right there, but what is a book without a story to illustrate its message? What I might add to Pirsig’s perfect words is my realisation that once we are “older”, at any moment we each have the opportunity to simultaneously be the motorcycle driver or the passenger — to be father or son, teacher or student, protagonist or observer.
What age and life experience gives you, if you are very lucky, is not just the ability to pursue any role in situation or conversation, but more importantly the ability to choose the role that serves you and those around you the best in that situation.
Brave is the one with confidence to lead when a leader is needed, but wiser is the one with the maturity to nurture and inspire those around them to hone their leadership or decision-making abilities and to find humour, not offence, when their efforts miss the mark.
The essence of a life journey well lived is an appreciation of the fact that, although you may rise in the same manner each day, life is in fact a never-ending story which begins each day with a blank page to fill, and you alone are the decider of the story you are writing for yourself.
• Robin Trimingham is an author and thought leader in the field of retirement who specialises in helping corporate groups and individuals understand and prepare for a new life beyond work. Contact her at olderhoodgroup.com, 538-8937 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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