Perhaps the only universal truth about getting older is that we lose things as we age. Time takes from us what we can never get back. Opportunity, circumstances, abilities, looks, people we care about.
In conjunction with the passage of time we also make decisions, whether actively or passively, that facilitate loss. Loss is as much a part of the aging process as anything else.
Of course, we also gain things as we age. But if I know anything about human nature it’s that we obsess over the things we’ve lost and barely recognize what we still have or what we’ve gained. Nostalgia is a powerful and often misleading state of mind, but it’s perhaps the essence of human nature to remember the good while ignoring the bad.
But no matter what we’ve gained, loss is ever-present as we get older.
Impermanence is an unstoppable force.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. What it means. Why it’s so hard to accept. Why it can be so painful.
After thinking about this for a while, what I’ve found comfort in is the fact that ultimately, loss is a universal reality we all face sooner or later. Keeping this in mind is often sobering, but I think it serves an important purpose. I think it allows us to not set ourselves up for disappointment due to unrealistic expectations or a lack of understanding.
We realize that time will take from us no matter how hard we fight like hell to hold on.
This truth applies to everyone.
Maybe loss catches up to some of us sooner than others, but it catches up to everyone eventually. I’ve found that approaching life with this mindset has been helpful. It certainly doesn’t make everything better, and maybe it doesn’t even foster the ‘appreciate it while you have it’ mindset so much as it’s a good reminder that the loss we’re experiencing now or will experience in the future is simply part of our lifecycle.
There is no way we can progress and continue to age without loss. And in almost every discernible way, loss itself can be seen as a privilege of the aging process. If we’re able to make it far enough, we will experience loss.
I suppose what requires the most work is understanding this truth and trying to hold onto it as time continues to pass.