One of the “gifts” of living longer is that one experiences more losses. I’ve just returned from yet another memorial service for the spouse of a good friend, and it reminded me that as I get older, I will have many more reminders that life is finite and it’s important to stay grounded in what matters.
I’ve been reading a lot about how people think about this stage in life. My friends have described this time as the autumn of our lives or in a more whimsical rendition, “the pre-departure lounge”. Among my readings, the quote below from British philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell, deeply resonated with me, and I pass it along for your interest.
“Make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life. An individual human existence should be like a river — small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being.
The man who, in old age, can see his life in this way, will not suffer from the fear of death, since the things he cares for will continue. And if, with the decay of vitality, weariness increases, the thought of rest will not be unwelcome. I should wish to die while still at work, knowing that others will carry on what I can no longer do and content in the thought that what was possible has been done.”
Sending you good wishes on this autumn day,