Being Old is like Being Pregnant

The Pregnancy

Happy lovers have plenty of sex and then one day Bamm, the doctor tells you you’re with child. We spend the next 8 months thinking about change, a lot of it. Good thing we don’t have sex and the next day produce a five year old running around and talking. The transition would be too much to bear. We have 9 months to prepare for a baby the same way we get old slowly. I woke up recently and Bamm, I realized I am pregnant with old age; I want it to be a distant idea, but it is a state of being now; I can’t ignore it and I can’t avoid it.

By some wonderful design, getting pregnant and getting old both provide time for us to gradually get used to what will be a big change.

The sex was pure fun and carefree delight however when you find out your pregnant you realize quick, your life has changed. The inevitability of aging is no different. We live carefree lives and then, Ah Ha! you realize your life is not your own and from then on, it is surrender to letting go of all you delighted in. I am over 63 now and have out lived 4 family members. What this tells me is “get ready”. The horizon of dying is in sight. I find myself asking; Have I had enough? How much more time? How do I keep going and why? The big change of a coming birth or impending death demand new ways to be in the world with a good deal of mystery and fear, joy and humor.

 

Pregnancy is the end result of a couple who set into motion a new life and loose some of themselves in the process. Aging is like that. It is the absolute loss of self. At some point we come to grips with the fact that our life will not go on forever, and no one can prepare us for what we will loose. Our freedom, independence and control are only some of the losses. But actually aging has nothing to do with dying; it is time to prepare for new life in a new dimension. The old life is displaced by the new one.

The Birth

It is shocking to hold in your arms all the potential for abundant life. There are endless responsibilities and choices which need to be made for this little creature. There is no turning back; there is no avoiding the bond between the two of you and the commitment. Advanced aging is similar,  getting old even when you have no idea how it will play out. You have to deal with uncharted territory; I am alone in what will be. Hang in there, accept it is happening and commit yourself to the undeniable truth you are going to die so don’t waste any more time with illusions. Mothers own their babies but have to let them go, same with the life we thought we owned, we have to let it go. The life we have lived was on loan and one day we are forced to give it away, like a mother who surrenders her child into the world.

I watched my Mexican in laws, 89 and 87 sit together for hours, they didn’t even talk. Who knows what they were thinking. Basically their simple life was eating, pooping and sleeping. Their children, the house, their life’s work, and the people they knew had all morphed into something else. I think I was watching them relinquish one thought and experience at a time. It’s all lost in the end and it is what it is. Rejoice, it wasn’t really ours anyway!

No one can prepare us for the freedom and simplicity we will have once we are dead. Aging is an opening to newness just like a pregnancy brings forth new life. Both are intense and have so much to teach us, so stay awake.

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