The experience of age?

It seems to me that possibly the most frustrating and soul destroying scenario would be to reach those senior years (I am already  there!), and reflect back on those dreams that were never realized, and perhaps now cannot be. Can you imagine reflecting, and confronting the reality that your priorities in life were very wrong?

I remember reading the results of a survey which was based on conversations with people who were clearly approaching the end of their lives. The study concluded that those who happily accepted the inevitable, were the ones who had followed their dreams and could look back on a productive and rewarding life. Conversely, those that felt cheated and were generally very depressed, where the ones that “should have ……. “, “could have”, “if only …..”

So many of us are so driven to social acceptance, that we live our lives based on our perception of what others expect from us. i.e we are people pleasing.  Sadly, at the “end of the day”, we have to live with ourselves, while those others simply get on with their lives regardless of our circumstances. Desiring social interactions is very natural to our species, but given that  one can never please everybody … just how far should we go? How much of ourselves should be hide simply because we think we might not be accepted?

It is so easy to procrastinate life impacting challenges on the basis that there is always tomorrow, but one day … there will not be a tomorrow!

The following verses are taken from my “Just Thinking” book. Click book cover in right column (may have to scroll) for more information.

**  ***  *****  ***  **

“The Old Man’s Lament”

I have lived for many years

But… what have I achieved?

Upon reflection,

I may have served no purpose at all.

What a thing to believe!

***

What if I had listened

To my little voice inside?

Things would be much different,

But I simply followed others,

Perhaps there was something I needed to hide?

***

I really wished… but instead

I listened to you all.

I devoted myself to pleasing you.

I thought of you all as friends,

Although… that was not the case, as I recall.

***

Did I live the way I could?

Must I now shed tears for me?

Must I dwell on my past life?

Living here alone;

Is there a future… for me to see?

***

I really did try to please you all.

I catered to your every need.

I guess I wanted your approval,

And certainly didn’t want to offend but…

Now you have little time for me.

***

What is it that I’ve really done?

What really could have been?

Where on earth did I go wrong?

If only I could go back in time,

I would plan very differently for me.

***

But I cannot reclaim those times.

The past cannot be replayed.

Decisions should have been different,

But that is history

And I cannot live in yesterdays.

***

What a fool I have been,

People pleasing and living a lie.

You can’t please everybody.

I should have known that

So… why did I even try?

***

But those times are gone,

And what do I now see?

An unknown future,

And some shattered dreams.

Remnants of what could have been me!

***

From this moment on

I will live for me.

I am going to change.

From this moment on,

I will be my priority!

***

Forget the “could haves.”

Forget the “should haves” too.

They really do waste my time.

Nothing will change by dwelling on the past.

Not for me… and not for you.

***

Today I am choosing a new path,

Where my dreams are important to me.

You can join me on this road,

Wherever it is going to lead.

But do you really want to see?

***

I don’t think any the less of you.

I just want to work with me,

To follow my own instincts

And to go where I choose.

To see just who I can be.

***

If you can understand that,

Then a friend you truly are.

If it gives you problems though,

Then set your own life course,

Because mine is now aimed at the stars!

***

I am taking control of my life.

I will determine my own course and speed.

And for what time I have left,

I intend to give it my best,

Because now my life (what remains of it) is important to me.

***

I have lived for many years,

But what have I achieved?

Upon reflection,

I may have served no purpose,

But… this will now change… believe!

27 thoughts on “The experience of age?

  1. “What if I had listened
    To my little voice inside?
    Things would be much different…”

    There is also the possibility that by listening to that little voice you may go astray and end up wishing you had lived by generally accepted standards and conventions.
    Just wondering as I am getting there…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ankur, and your “wondering” is interesting! My experience would suggest that intuitive thoughts are rather more reliable than those dictated by conscious impulse, Living by “generally accepted standards and conventions” is surely little more than feeding a desire to conform however, whereas conformity is not necessarily negative, it can certainly stifle the “real you”!
      If Picasso or Dali had conformed to the art of their time … or if Shostakovich had conformed to the classical music of his time … if nobody had ever thought “I wonder if I can make a flying machine?” … if nobody had determined that not only could a ship made of steel float, but it could prove very practical.” …. where would we be if individuals did not want to break from conformity?
      So what to do? How about pondering the pros/cons and deciding what would make you happier; more fulfilled; more rewarded; more satisfied. Only Ankur can provide those answers to you. 🙂

      Like

      • I think I understand what you are saying. My point simply is: would there be situations where a person chooses to follow his/ her dream, say of becoming a Picasso, and, when there is no time left, ends up wondering if he would have been better off sticking to the straight and narrow. Every situation can have a ‘what-if’. The desirable situation, of course, is for every individual to take decisions and ownership for those decisions. And, like you say, only Ankur can provide the answers.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think we can guarantee that there will always be those “What if?” moments. If we take them to the point of being ridiculous ….. What if my parents had been different? What if I studied more at school? What if I travelled more before I started my working life? What if I didn’t start smoking?

          It becomes necessary to identify those “What ifs?” as redundant and non-constructive meanderings. There may be some creative value in wondering “What if …..?”, but the main point of the verse was to stress the importance of following your heart “now” and not risk having regrets later, and at a time when earlier options are simply no longer available. I think we have to draw a distinction between negative “what ifs?” (If only I had ………), in contrast to purely hypothetical “What ifs?”

          Personally, I have wondered “What if I had made a different career choice?”; “What if I had not married back then?”; “What if I had not emigrated?” – I attach no negatives to those questions, but those events are interesting to ponder simply because my life was changed by each one. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. A thought provoking and beautifully written post. As I am now into my senior twilight years, I find myself at peace with the choices that I made along the way; including the good, the not so good and some of those that were even bad. I like to believe that my life has reflected these wise words of Maya Angelou : “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Congratulations Angeline, and thank you for your comment. Given that it is life experiences that make us who we are today, we can only look back and wish … but “today” is always a good time to make change if desired. Like you, I am very comfortable with who I am today but, sadly, so many are not.

      Liked by 1 person

    • There may be a fine line between those two directions, but I would suggest that they can (stress can) also be very complimentary. Some of my most rewarding (in a personal growth context) times have been when in the service of others.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t think of any regrets, so I guess that means I have lived as I wanted to this point. I think the other part of it is that I have accepted the fact that I’m no “rock star”. My life has not been filled with great adventure and awesome feats that make people ooo and ahhh when they hear the stories.
    Have I made incorrect choices? Yes! But I can’t say I regret those choices. My wrong choices were pretty much based on a lack of experience and knowledge at the time. Do I wish I could have made the right choice as I look back? Sure, I do, but I understand that is based on hindsight which is very clear and based on the accumulated knowledge and experience of now versus then. Kinda like Deb said above, it’s about learning the lessons. It’s hard to regret something if you learned a lesson from it.
    Excellent post! Very thought provoking and an excellent life lesson in there. You can’t for everybody else and hope to end up happy at the end.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great comment Scott. We only have one guarantee in life … that one day it will end, and current beliefs would suggest that none of us are going to get another chance at it! Given that perspective, it does seem rather pointless not to take full advantage of whatever time we have left eh! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good post! Yes, those “should have’s, would have’s and could have’s” only serve one purpose, and that is to drive you crazy! I really don’t need any help in that area, so I try to avoid them!

    I really like your “How much of ourselves should we hide, simply because we think that we will not be accepted?” question. Too many people hide their true selves! Why is it that we let society dictate to us what is acceptable instead of listening to our hearts and letting ourselves be real! As the wise Dr.Seuss said,(which also has been repeated to me before, by a wise friend.) “Those that mind don’t matter, and those that matter won’t mind!”

    Like your thought provoking poem says, “aim for the stars!”, follow your heart and live this life in a way that can have you shouting “Woo-Hoo, what a Ride!” at the end of it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was just re-reading your comment (another Commenter brought me here), and I noticed your question “Why is it that we let society dictate to us what is acceptable instead of listening to our hearts and letting ourselves be real!”
      Well we don’t! Society cannot/is not able to dictate anything per se. That is just delegating responsibility away from ourselves. We can either choose to be dictated to, or not… but it is our choice. Perhaps your question should be “Why do we let ourselves be dictated to by society?”
      There are probably many answers, but certainly an insecurity is a factor. Typically “you” are not “loners”; do not want the “spotlight”; just want to be left alone, but with lots of friends.; don’t want to stand-out in a crowd, and do not put a microphone in front of my mouth!

      Blogging is a good compromise because you can express yourself, and yet maintain some anonymity!

      Like

  5. For me the most soul-destroying scenario would be to realize at the end of my life that I have been given many lessons along the way but never used them to grow as a person. I don’t think so much in terms of “would-have and should haves” because I prefer to focus on moving forward. When I do look at my past, I mine it for the lessons I have been gifted, to be used now and to guide my future.

    Deb

    Liked by 2 people

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