Staying Engaged

By Jim Selman | Bio

I’ve been thinking about aging and
observing the human phenomenon for a long time and I know that most of
the chatter in my head isn’t ‘me’—it’s just the tapes of my past and my
ego playing the tune to which my culture expects me to dance. For
example, I believe and know from experience that the key to health and wellbeing is “participation”—staying
engaged in whatever games I choose to play. Yet, that little voice in
my head insists that I should rest more, take it easy, slow down and
just enjoy life. I can observe myself being seduced by the reasonable
and conventional wisdom that as I get older I should participate less.

If I ‘listen’ to my internal conversation, I will follow the
predictable path most of us take as we retire. Life will stop being
about participation and, more than likely, will be about filling time.
If I am conscious and committed enough, I will generate alternative
pathways for creativity and service and my level of participating will
continue and even increase as I get older. If not, my future will be a
predicable path toward inaction and, in all likelihood, a creeping

I am not saying people should not retire. Many are required to retire
by their employers. But we should view retirement as an opportunity to
take on more commitment, more participation, more engagement with
life—not less.

The lesson? Stay conscious and make more commitments as we age. The
‘energy’ we feel will follow if we don’t succumb to those ‘little
voices’ that want to rationalize away our choices and lock us into a
prison of reasonable and conventional choices designed to perpetuate
the cultural patterns and norms which define aging as a process of loss
and decline.

© 2008 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.