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December 14, 2013

When we are little, we have to learn to walk, to learn the alphabet and to read and write, to ride a bicycle. We have to learn to be social, to share toys, to take turns. We have to learn to play games, to cooperate. We even have to learn to love. For our animal instincts that have evolved within us are very powerful. In common with all of life our survival instinct creates our self-interest, our selfishness that creates so many of the problems for ourselves and our societies. That includes the sexual instinct – especially in the male – for our selfishness can too often dominate that too. We have to learn to live beyond our animal instincts, to learn to live for others, to live outside of ourselves. Growing up is one long learning process.

But I am observing that growing old is in itself a learning process. Learning to adapt, learning more patience, learning new attitudes and behaviors . Somehow, I guess I thought that old people had learned it all and wouldn’t have to learn any more. But I am discovering that learning must be a continuous process that we dare not stop. In growing old, we have to learn to let go. We have to learn to accept change. We have to learn and accept that others will be making decisions for us. We have to learn to accept dependence on others. We have to learn balance between “I can do it myself” and “Thank you for helping me.”

It’s not easy. For it is not easy to give up our independence. In fact we should never let it be easy, to give in to dependence too quickly. We need to rebel against it, to strive to keep our individuality, our pride of self. But we discover that other people really do want to help. So we need to learn how to accept that help and be gracious about it.

But part of the learning is that growing old is very personal. There is a sense of aloneness to it. That it is something that is actually happening to me. But that is really nothing new. It’s just that our busy lives surrounded by family or coworkers didn’t always give us time to be alone with ourselves, and now we are learning that we must do that too. But that’s also an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to continue learning about the world, but more importantly to learn about yourself – that special being you have been growing up with all these years.

Loren Bullock
December 14, 2013

From → Personal

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