Big Life with Ray Waters Neal Campbell no

This week I turned 54. I made it — another year in the books.  This morning I reflected on my life, and here are a few observations I have on getting older.

  1. The Franciscan friar and Catholic priest, Richard Rohr, is right. The journey to maturity includes building a strong “container” or identity in the first half of life and then finding the contents the container was meant to hold in the second half of life. That’s what it feels like to me. The frantic, anxiety producing pace I kept when I was younger is giving way to the more contemplative, deliberate life I live now. As I age, I am more clearly realizing the things that matter.  As a young man, I thought I knew who I was. I now realize that in my 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s I was simply building the framework for my life. Now, as a middle aged person, I feel as if I am putting things into that framework that truly reflect who I am. This second half of life really feels different from the first half. There is less certainty, but much more peace and understanding. Getting older does have its perks.
  1. If you want to age optimally, you need to work on strength and cardio training, flexibility and deep breathing. It still amazes me that I am physically stronger today than I have been in my entire life. I walk taller now than I did 10 years ago. I meet with a friend and walk/run 2-3 miles 3 times a week. Jane and I are beginning to take Yoga classes to help us with flexibility. I do deep breathing exercises every day to maximize oxygenation of my blood and to help with my lung capacity. “Why do you do all these crazy things Ray? You are 54 years old. Put your feet up and coast. You have earned it.” I believe if you are fortunate enough to have reasonably good health, you should not take it for granted or ignore it. Rather, you should spend a little time each day taking care of it so it will serve you and the big life you want to live.
  1. As you get older, it really is the simpler things of life that you long for. I don’t want a lot of flashy new things anymore. Well, I do want the Porsche Panamera, but we will save that discussion for another blog. 🙂 As a man firmly in middle age, I know what is really important to me. I want to go on new adventures with Jane. I want to spend time breaking bread with my family and closest friends. I want to meet interesting people and really listen to their stories. I want to be a deeply spiritual person. I want to write and speak in an effective way to help people live their biggest and best lives. I want to listen to good music and read good books. I want to help those who are marginalized. I want to truly learn to be grateful for every amazing part of this life I get to live.

Getting older isn’t bad. It actually is much better than the alternative. 53 is gone and 54 is here. Let’s crush this year and make it the best one yet.

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