Any time that you challenge yourself to undertake something worthwhile but difficult, a little out of your comfort zone—or any time that you put yourself in a position that challenges your preconceived sense of your own limits—you increase your capacity to make the most of the unexpected opportunities with which you will inevitably be presented. —Ben S. Bernanke, an American economist who served two terms as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. .
Do you feel afraid a lot? Is it just a general fear? Perhaps it’s fear of a specific thing, such as getting ready to perform, or speak in front of a group? Could it be a fear of growing older?
Twice in my life, I was chastised for saying that I was afraid. Actually, publicly reprimanded to the point that my face heated, and tears started to roll out of the corner of my eyes. The first time was during a debate club meeting my freshman year in college. I had been an active and successful debater in high school, but my first college tournament was to be the week-end following our Monday team get-together. The Assistant Coach sauntered in – young, cocky and just full of himself as only a college senior can be. He said “How ya’ doing?” or something similar, looking straight at me. I answered, “I’m afraid.” An accurate statement.
Now that I’ve been through law school, I’ve wondered if his reaction was meant to put the fear of God in everyone in the room – not just me. He stopped walking. He pointed. He glared. He yelled. He cursed – talking about how stupid it was to be afraid, and how I was just looking for attention.
The second time, I was at the Dentist office. Actually, it was a local Dentist who shall remain nameless. Anyhow, I was about to have some difficult procedure, and was all ready when the Dentist came into the room. He said something required “Hello – how ya doing?” and I said “I’m afraid.” As soon as that was out of my mouth, the Dr. flew into this tirade about how only idiots were afraid of Dentists and he was sick and tired of hearing it, etc. I can’t really remember everything he said, but I do know that tears ran down my cheeks until the procedure was completed. Funny. Today they recruit scared dental patients, marketing sedation dentistry all over the place. Obviously, this Doctor was no marketing wizard.
Now you know some more parts of my life story. How about your own? Can you remember being afraid? Are you afraid now? Senior Moments concentrates and focuses on the retirement community. It is observable fact that, faced with the loss of youth and perhaps beauty, many of us feel profound fear and sometimes regret. These feelings trick us into believing that the best years of our lives are behind us. I have these fears, too, so don’t be afraid this column will be a sermon. Well, not a fire and brimstone one anyhow – just a bit of nagging.
The reasons we experience feelings of dread and fear regarding aging are probably legitimate ones. However, sometimes our preoccupation with loss keeps us from anticipating the pleasures that do lie ahead. Many times, the idea of protecting our health and exercising our brains have been gone over in this column. Today, we’ll push ourselves toward the pleasures of the future in a slightly more spiritual way.
An important thing to do as we grow older is to cultivate, feed and fertilize our relationships with friends and family. It is crucial, especially as we grow older that we matter to someone, and that they make a difference to us. We get tired – and lazy – but it’s important to stay in regular contact with those close to us. We need to call them regularly, invite them over even if it’s only for a cup of tea. We need to understand, in the fullness of our mind and from the bottom of our heart, that it is neither our superior intellect nor our beauty that matters to those people. They love us, and relate to who and what we are deep inside. In the company of these people, we find a place full of peace and love.
We have often written that faith has a complete relationship to the difference between young-old and old-old. It is so important that we find that sense of meaning in life that goes beyond ourselves, and gives us inner refuge and peace. It’s very peaceful to understand, that competent and masterful though we may be, none of us are ultimately responsible for what happens on this planet. Someone else is in charge. Remember that, cling to your faith, and you will find aging less an affront, and more of a blessing.
It is possible that fear may be a symptom of clinical depression. If your fear never gets better, you should consider talking with a therapist or counselor. Depression can be treated effectively these days.
Thank you for reading. Stay well. See you next week.