The great advantage of your second birth—at age 50 and older—is that you can plan ahead. Your first birth was thrown at you, complete with total strangers who turned out to be your parents, an awkward, unformed body that had to be trained to perform the simplest tasks, and a bewildering world of chaotic sights and sounds your brain had to mold into something that made sense.
Fired up by the possibilities of planning a whole new lifetime, I decided to take the opportunity seriously. I set aside all the stereotypes of old age that clutter the mind and approached my second birth with a wish list. What would I want should I live to be 100? Immediately the following desires came to mind:
- I want to survive even longer, if possible.
- I want to remain healthy.
- I want a clear, alert mind.
- I want to be active.
- I want to have achieved wisdom.
As soon as I wrote down these desires, a surprising thing happened—they all seemed within my reach. I know what to do to be healthy today, and I can live tomorrow the same way. I’ve always been active, so why fear that I’ll sink into a chair one day, never to get up again?
And psychologists are beginning to verify that human development extends into old age through higher states of awareness, that decline in the brain’s physical structure with age may be offset by new mental accomplishments.
With this simple list I had turned survival from a threat into a desirable goal, because on my list were things I truly wanted.