With the Fall season in full swing, we note the change by leaves changing color and dropping from deciduous trees, cooling temperatures, fewer daylight hours, and a general slowing down in the natural world. One thing we all have in common, regardless of our age, is that we grow older, day by day, season by season, year by year.
There is a natural rhythm to the changing of the seasons and they are all predictable according to a calendar that marks the end of one and the beginning of another. Whether equinox or solstice, the movement of earth and sun along with various angles tell a story about light and temperatures. According to most knowledgeable scientists climate change is real and of serious concern. How we respond to that issue may well write a larger story about change in the future.
There are markers along the way. At 40 we talk about mid-life and sometimes an attending crisis of one kind or another. We celebrate 50 as a peak experience with reassurances that it’s not a downhill trajectory afterwards. In our 60’s many think about what’s coming next including retirement when that’s a viable option and that is a very big change. A decade of being in one’s 70’s can be full of choices given the blessing of good health and time to enjoy it.
I cannot speak with any authority about much beyond 80 but what I can observe in many others gives me hope and encouragement for making the most of the coming year or however many remain for me to celebrate and enjoy. There are no guarantees for how long or how well we will live so the best practice, insofar as possible, seems to be to maintain good health, an active mind, interactions with others and to love what you’re doing.
How we change as we age and how we age as we change have their own rhythms and seasons, not always so predictable as one might prefer at times. Perhaps one of the most significant findings was that which was reported in the Harvard longitudinal study of happiness. The main conclusion is that “warmth of relationships throughout life have the greatest positive impact on ‘life satisfaction'”. Put differently, the author, George Valliant, says the study shows: “Happiness is love. Full stop.”