Helpful wisdom, compassion and care for you

A big birthday!

70!

Ok, something crazy just happened. I turned 70!

And, to be clear, I’m celebrating. 🙂 

If I mention that I’m old, or older, some of my younger friends are like, Don’t say that! Or—We have to have a conversation about this! I think these very dear friends mean that I’m not washed up, I’m still relevant, I’m still clever, or whatever “old” tends to imply, and especially that they want me to think well of myself. But—I do! 

I don’t think being old is a bad thing. When in our cultural evolution did we decide that being old was something to avoid (like the plague)? That wrinkles are unacceptable? That we should marginalize older folks? Well, I just don’t buy it. In fact, an antipathy to old age is very unwise since, hey, we’re all headed there.

During the early phase of the pandemic in 2020, I began working daily with the Five Remembrances, reminders that we are of the nature to grow old, of the nature to die. First seen in the Upajjhatthana Sutta (“Subjects for Contemplation”), they are meant to be recited aloud—powerful, resonant statements that the Buddha suggests we face head-on, absorb, and accept.

Like so many Buddhist teachings, this approach is utterly counterintuitive.  Our fear of death can weigh so heavily on our psyches that we humans, responding intuitively, tend to scurry around hiding from the inevitability in every way we can possibly devise! But the Buddha taught, just look at this. Just be with this.

And, lo and behold…we can. The result? Peace. Calm. The opportunity for contentment, joy, savoring the moments and the miracles of life, every day—which we don’t have room for if our subconscious is scurrying around occupied with the fear of death.

Once we accept the reality and let go of the fear… life can be wonderful! 

Full of gratitude. Spacious. Sweet. Alight with the glow of it all: precious family, friends, sangha, community. Curiosity, discovery, birdsong, fall leaves, tender spring shoots, breathtaking skies. Just go outside and look up* to see them. That’s life. That’s here. That’s now.

Yay!

*With thanks to La Sarmiento 🙂

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8 Comments

  1. Diana schwab

    Happy happy birthday Jo. December 16 is one I always remember as being your birthday. Thanks to your Mindful News, I find myself taking the time to send you a note to wish you happy and joyful birthday and send my heartfelt wishes for health, joy, delight to continue to be a part of your life. Love, dixxxx

    • Jo

      Thank you for your kind wishes, love! It’s such a DELIGHT to hear from YOU, one of my most favorite people I’ve been SO fortunate to know in my life. :))) Sending so much love to you, dear-
      xoxo
      Jo

  2. Tim

    Love this! Thoughtful and full of human grace and, as you would say, gratitude for life! Happy 70th!

  3. Thank you Jo!
    I am turning 70 this week and celebrating!
    So grateful for all I have lived and am living in this season.
    Blessings for you.

    • Jo

      Happy birthday week, Penny! I think 70 deserves at least a week to celebrate, don’t you?

      Blessings & joy!
      Jo

  4. Samuel Barry

    I am just discovering this and wish you a happy belated birthday as well. I am grateful for people like you who show us the positive side of life. When I grow to be 70 I hope to follow your example or maybe follow your example right now and see my own aging and health troubles at 32 as a positive thing. Happy New Year, May you be Happy, Safe, and Well
    Best
    Sam

    • Jo

      Oh, Sam, thank you! My dearest wish is to add my light to the sum of light; to weigh in on the side of joy, gratitude, beauty, and love. I’ve had health problems since young adulthood and there have been the dark times I’m sure you know, too. But Buddhist meditation practice has nurtured a sense of curiosity, joy, and more, enduring contentment. May you be held in the heart of lovingkindness! Love, Jo

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