Growing old. When do we stop looking forward to the future? My husband, who is a Palliative Care specialist, says that even in the end stages of life, we still look forward.
Erikson‘s psychosocial crisis theory of human development says life is a balance between conflicts. Ambivalence, two opposing forces, is something to embrace and walk with. I don’t think Erikson ever said it in so many words, but he was largely talking about having a sense of presence in our lives. He based most of his theory on watching kids grow and then spread the rest over adulthood like the last bit of peanut butter on the knife. Is that what adulthood is like?
My little girl told me that she’ll never run out of love for me. (Every now and then, after hours or days of desert-like behaviors, she’ll break open a rock and out will gush something amazingly nice like that.) Then she looked me over and said, “You’re not old Mommy!” I showed her my gray and my spots and my wrinkles. Maybe I was trying to say, “How can you love me in my future?” Love is evergreen. I am not.
When I was a kid, my parents loaded us up for a couple weeks every year and hauled us 8 hours in a van to Brian Head ski resort in Utah. It is where I learned that some things stay green no matter what weather they live in. The Evergreens, tall, tall, covered in snow except for some undergarments showing through were everywhere. Even thinking about them, I can taste
Rolo Chocolate Caramel Candies,
feel the weight of booted feet, hear Dad’s bass voice and bits of my favorite ski-story loud to be heard above the chair lift.
Evergreen’s for at least 2 weeks a year, surrounded me and my family. I’ve heard that Brian Head has materially changed a lot since we stopped going. I wonder about the trees. I’m sure there are fewer.
If it is true that every stage of life has conflicts to resolve, it makes sense to me that in age we must resolve our future with our past. We can’t just have a past. If we find ourselves just looking back, than we are turning a blind eye to something we are meant to be present with. Something that brings balance and fullness to life. Something that is an evergreen quality.
For me, it is intuitive to look at God to meet this need – future v. past. I don’t know what it is for others. Conflict resolution.
When the days on life’s scale are tipping backwards, and we see that there aren’t as many days left on our plate, be present. It is an illusion. The past does not outweigh the future. The opposing directions of time are just fine.
Self Care Tip #71 – Be present with the past by believing in your future. Be a friend to yourself.
Question: Agree or Disagree? What are your thoughts?