Aging and Covid-19 are a threatening combination.
We likely have a family member, friend or co-worker who has suffered income or job loss, an education challenge with children, business loss, physical impairment, or even died from Covid-19?
This ruthless infection is very personal. For many of us, it has invaded our life and distorted it often beyond recognition.
Every day, we are challenged with hard choices, especially when they are compounded by the challenges of aging.
How much do we allow this plague and its emotional triggers
to dominate our life? Will we allow it to take over, push aside
normality and overwhelm our freedom to aspire?
Life is so short. We’re here for only these few precious moments.
And as we age, these moments feel more and more precious. The need to
keep moving forward intensifies.
Aspiration – The Engine Of Moving Forward
Thankfully, we are also blessed with a gift. We have a wondrous brain that is not inevitably overwhelmed by negative emotions. Our brain is, at its core, always looking out for us, looking for balance and well-being.
that drives our brain’s continual striving to achieve the most self-realized,
most fulfilled version of ourself is ASPIRATION. Our brain is forever aspiring, looking
forward toward something better - at any age.
Complacent, burned out, afraid, sad, anxious - these emotions are all normal,
and inevitable as we age. But they are only temporary barriers to our
brain’s quest. The direction is always forward unless something stops the
And when it does, we must consciously act to push through and move beyond it,
even if it is intense grief. We must consciously free our brain to once
again mobilize its awesome power to help us move forward in our quest for
That does not mean we will ever forget the grief or the pain. It simply
means that everyone who loves and cares for us wants us to move forward.
We should file the grief away in our brain’s file cabinet where it can be
stored. Recall it, with all the attendant emotions it invokes, when we
need it. But know we can return it to its file drawer in order to free us
to move forward - ever aspiring.
Even in the midst of this pandemic there are tools and strategies which can
enable us to proactively work our way back onto the path forward. Here
are 4 action steps we can take right now to help us restore our forward-looking
vision, and re-energize our aspiration engine:
1. Look Inward To Find Our Own Personal “True North”
Whatever our age, somewhere, perhaps deep below the emotions we feel right now,
is our core aspiration - the core “I”- who we truly are and where we want to
go. We all have a core “I.” Sometimes it’s driven deep by life.
But it’s there, with all its aspirations and dreams.
The first task is to find that core “I” and bring it into clear focus. We must
see it in 3 dimensions, touch it, feel its power to fulfill us, to energize us
and strengthen our self-confidence as a valuable person in the world.
The stronger our sense of SELF and our desire to be all that we can be, the
faster we will find the strength to get past all the emotions that currently
2. Forever Aspire
Nothing will change if we do not look forward. If we are grieving
desperately right now, especially if a family member or friend is suffering or
has been lost to this plague, I understand your loss is inconsolable and
But we are hard-wired to move forward and to aspire – at any age – even after
tragedy. Life may intervene. Grief may overwhelm. But
aspiration must never be allowed to die.
Whatever our spiritual understanding of the world, aspiration is the gift we have been given. At age 77, I feel grateful every day, and also responsible to honor that gift by working hard to keep moving forward on this journey to be all that I can be.
3. Minimize The Emotional Barriers So We Can Concentrate On OURSELF
We can’t, and we shouldn’t, eliminate the emotions. But we can reduce
their power to restrain our movement forward. We have work to do.
Constant impressions of all those heartbreaking images and stories around us
affect us deeply - grieving families, healthcare workers breaking down from the
stress and public indifference, partisan versions of the truth and the
inevitable hate that follows. All this conditions our brain to feel
anxious, to feel powerless to do anything about it.
The only viable solution is to get away from it and give our brain a chance to
get its bearings, to regroup to find its way back to working toward our True
We must create a filter in our brain that interrupts the flow of all that
negative stuff so we can (a) avoid it where possible, (b) lessen it where it’s
inevitable, like grief, or (c) evaluate it and discard the negative so that
only the stuff that brightens and energizes our life gets through.
Funny thing: There seems to be a direct relationship between how much of that negative I avoid or lessen, and how positive and hopeful I feel. I don’t totally ignore the negative. There’s too much good stuff I’d miss, or genuine sadness that I need to experience. So I filter it. I ration it. And I consciously temper my feelings about it. Try it. You’ll see.
4. Take Charge Of Our Life
If our True North drives us to want to do something about all this, get
engaged. Do something. Volunteer. We should step out of
our comfort zone. We should use our talents to help the world move
forward (That’s what Marianne and I are trying to do right now with
We should not howl at the moon or shrink into a ball. If we have the
drive and the energy, we should get engaged.
That does not mean we have to run for political office or start a movement. We
each have within us the desire to have a purpose. We should look for what
our purpose can be.
It can be volunteer work, helping out our hard-hit institutions deal with new
challenges, creatively finding ways to repair or enrich connections between family
members in this time of isolation, inspiring others online or on social media.
The opportunities are infinitely wide in these challenging times.
The key is to TAKE CHARGE. We’re never too old. Be proactive.
We should not wait for someone to
invite us or, worse, shame us into doing something outside ourself. It’s
time to find direction and re-invigorate our journey forward toward achieving
the full, meaningful and fulfilling life to which we aspire.
Aging and Covid-19 can co-exist, if we consciously work at it. An ageless life is not confined or defined by this moment, as profound as it may feel right now. Embrace a life of striving. There is so much to look forward to - ever aspiring - ever ageless.
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Ken Smith is, at age 77, retired from 37 years as owner of a national marketing firm, and recent co-founder of a website/blog ( EverAgeless.com ) dedicated to living an ageless life.