June 5
Anyone who keeps the ability
to see beauty never grows old.

Franz Kafka


Today's Meditation:

Age really is in our attitude more than it's in our body.  While our bodies do age, there is a huge difference between aging and "growing old."  An old person has lost his or her zest for life, has lost the will to do new things, to experiment and explore, to take risks and to feel enthusiasm.  Unfortunately, there are many,  many old people in the world, and fewer people who have aged gracefully and who are able still to enjoy life and to appreciate the great things about life.

I know a woman in her 70's who talks a lot about her past, and who talks a lot about how unfair life has been to her, how hard she's had things, how bad she feels now with all her aches and pains.  I've gone for many walks with her, and never do I hear her point out something that impresses her as being beautiful.  She sees things, but if she's capable of recognizing and appreciating beauty she's unable or unwilling to express that appreciation.  She never seems to be happy, as her focus always seems to be on the past that was and that never was.  When I'm with her, I feel that I'm with an old woman.

I know another woman of about the same age who is a joy to be with because she finds joy in all the things around her.  She constantly points out beautiful flowers and skies and trees and birds, and she seems to take great joy in life.  I've never heard her talk about some of the difficulties in her past, and I've never heard her complain of her lot in life, even though she does experience some pain from a condition of hers.  To her, though, the pain is just pain, and no reason not to still appreciate the beautiful world that surrounds her.  When I'm with her, I don't recognize her age at all--it's just fun to be with her.

Our ability to see beauty is part of our attitude, and something that we definitely can work to improve and control.  If we want to grow old, we can do so--but it seems much better to age gracefully and become an elder who can help others to see the beauty of this world, as opposed to an old person who has let the world get to them as they've aged.

Questions to consider:

What traits do you want to hold onto as you age?  Why?

What's more important--the number of years that we've lived, or the way we look at the world each day of our lives?

How might we work at keeping our ability to see beauty?  What does it mean to you to see beauty? 

For further thought:

The whole of life is a journey toward youthful old age, toward self-contemplation, love, gaiety, and, in a fundamental sense, the most gratifying time of our lives. . . .  "Old age" should be a harvest time when the riches of life are reaped and enjoyed, while it continues to be a special period for self-development and expansion.

Ashley Montague


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