serene ambition™

transforming the culture of aging

Choice and Time

Posted by Jim Selman on 12/7/06

The more time I spend in this conversation about ‘the rest of your life’, the more I begin to question the questions. I find I am torn: my ‘gung ho’ enthusiasm to empower seniors to make a difference and to help midwife a transformation of the aging paradigm from one of decline to one of possibility and sufficiency encounters a kind of acceptance (even resignation) that everything will all work out in the end and that I should devote the rest of my life to writing, art and the leisure pursuits that please me.

It is my inner conflict that interests me almost more than the resolution. It is blatantly clear to me that the issue is one of choice—my choice about what I will do with the rest of my life. Who am I? Who am I committed to Being for the next 30 years or so? My cultural ‘common sense’ says it’s only my ego that is so hell bent on working for a better world and that I need to ‘let go and let God’ take care of the mess. Yet my history and my heart say we only come around once and whatever we leave is really what our life has been about. My body is fighting hard to stay present, but I find myself resisting changing my diet and starting to exercise regularly to support my continued health and well-being for the long haul.

All of this is to say I am beginning to appreciate that making choices in midlife are not any more natural or easy or ‘enlightened’ than at any other time in life. We are living each day within whatever historical/cultural interpretation we have and our actions are all a correlate of how the world and the future appears to us.

As we age, the future changes from ‘enough time’ to ‘not enough time’ and that brings a shift in how we relate to the business of ‘choosing’. Suddenly, every choice begins to take on greater significance. The good news is that when we do choose, it is profoundly more satisfying. The bad news is that it becomes easy to justify not choosing and to continue procrastinating for a long time. By doing this, ‘no change’ becomes our default choice: so we simply end our life in exactly the same story we have been enrolled in during the first half of our life.

We need a catalyst to get us to choose one way or the other…something that will shake us from our fence-sitting. It isn’t about which choice we make. It’s about actually getting ourselves to make a choice.

So my choice today: either have the rest of life be an extension of what I have already created or break from the past and take on entirely new possibilities and adventures.

© 2006 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.

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One Response to “Choice and Time”

  1. donna said

    “My body is fighting hard to stay present, but I find myself resisting changing my diet and starting to exercise regularly to support my continued health and well-being for the long haul.”

    I’m fighting this struggle right now too, coming off some surgery that thankfully seems to have caught colon cancer before it got going, and trying to get back to being healthy and fit again.

    Indeed, it’s the act of making choices that make us what we are – otherwise, we’re just reacting to whatever is happening around us.

    But we are the lucky ones to realize this – most people never do get to this point.

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