One thing most of us learn, as we age, is that life changes and we don’t see it happening, because it happens so gradually. The older we get, we realize how important it is to enjoy every single day to the max. When we're growing up, we're too busy raising our families to think much about savoring each day. Most of our younger years are a blur of hard work, chaos, and fatigue laced with joy and a lot of noise.
We notice the changes when we look back on photos taken when we were younger, and can think, ‘I looked good, why did I think I needed to lose weight? I looked young then, so why did I think I looked old? Why was I so hard on myself?’ Most of the younger women I know are so hard on themselves and I wish I could hug them and remind them that they look just fine. You young moms, be easy with yourselves. Everything’s okay.
Here’s a thought. No matter how old you are, if you want to look ten years younger instantly, the next time you get into a discussion about age, say that you're ten years older than you are and watch the compliments flow to you! If you laughed at my joke, think about what you do to get people to think you are younger than you are. My "real" advice is next.
A ninety-year-old friend of mine, who just passed away, once told me she started every day with words from Emerson. They're the same words Peggy and I used to end our book, “The Sidetracked Sisters’ Happiness File.”
“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in. Forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays.”
Do you know much about Ralph Waldo Emerson? He lived in Concord, MA and owned property on Walden Pond where his live-in handyman, friend and protégé Henry Thoreau ended up living for a couple of years. In addition to doing odd jobs in the yard and house, Henry also watched the four Emerson children sometimes.
Since Ralph was a highly respected and famous American philosopher and man of letters, he mentored Henry, who was no dummy either. Henry graduated from Harvard as did Ralph.
When I think of that household of four children, a live-in student and a busy writing and lecture schedule, I can see why Emerson wrote that paragraph. Can you imagine Henry following him all around getting every drop of wisdom from Ralph that he could? Do you think maybe Ralph was the one who suggested Henry build a little room on that lake property because he was sick of him and wanted get him out? You know what they say about visitors being the same as fish; after three days they stink.
I often wonder how much Henry was in the “real” world. He lived with his parents before he lived with Ralph and his family. He spent $29 on the room he built to live in on the shore of Walden Pond and conducted an economic experiment to see if it were possible to live by working one day and devoting the other six days to rest and contemplation, reversing the Yankee habit of working six days and resting one. Sounds like Henry was a millennial before his time.
We don’t have six free days a week to contemplate life, but maybe we can take just a minute or two here-and-there every day and relish being alive. Relish every bite we take. Relish good music we can listen to anytime we turn it on. Relish our neighbors, friends and family members every time we come in contact with them. Relish our freedom. Relish the fact that we live on this planet (the only sphere that we know of in the Universe that we can inhabit) and we are conscious of it.
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