Tenure

[Editor's Note: This post was originally published at The Voice of Aging Boomers]

jewel 300x300 Tenure

Next week marks my 3,652 day as an assisted living resident – my ten-year anniversary as a member of America’s Institutional Aging Community.

Statistically, only 1 in 25,000 residents over 55 survives that long. And when you  factor into this equation my Young-Onset Parkinson’s, Congestive Heart Failure and two Pulmonary Embolisms, the odds become astronomical. (My first order of business upon waking every morning  is to acknowledge, with gratitude and astonishment,  that I actually woke up!)

Yet, here I am, after 63 years, still inhaling and exhaling. Still setting my quality-of-life indicator at its highest setting — indicating that despite ravaging tremors, excruciating pain and a failing heart that often makes me fight for each breath, I not only refuse to lay down and die — I  still squeeze what joy and inspiration I can from these ten-trillion cells called Martin Bayne.

And how do I continue to put one foot in front of the other in this often-disappointing and painful journey I call my life? In a word: purpose.

Purpose is the magic elixir that trumps pain, transcends any notion of limitation and opens our minds and hearts to possibility.

It is also the single most accurate predictor of joy and fulfillment in an aging population.

Which brings me to the reason I wrote this post — to share my anniversary with you in a format of “incremental victories.”   To openly share the ten-faceted jewel of knowledge and wisdom I’ve been given in exchange for all the pain and tremors.  Guard it well.

 

1. With stillness, we lay the foundation. 

When the mind settles, we become clear.

 

2. With courage, we move forward-despite our fear.

An authentic warrior recognizes fear as an ally.

 

3. With forgiveness, we discover true freedom.

One-hundred-years from now, what difference will it make?

 

4. With insight, we accept the change of life’s seasons.

We come, we go.  Can you remember the face you had before you were born?

 

5. With gratitude, we honor our elders.

Who determines who is “young” and who is “old?” Why, you, of course.

 

6. With tenderness, we turn the stream of compassion within.

She who has herself as playmate, coach and advisor, is a fortunate woman.

 

7. With faith, we learn surrender.

Give your heart away completely. It will always find its way home, bearing gifts.

 

8. With mindfulness, we do just this thing, now.

Life in the past and future — the cruelest prison of all.

 

9. With generosity, we make ourselves available to serve.

When duality drops away, who is serving and who is being served?

 

10. With purpose, we acknowledge our mission.

Purpose is our map; determination the vehicle.

 

Copyright 2013 Martin Bayne

Article written by Martin Bayne, ChangingAging Contributor

Martin Bayne is a journalist, Buddhist monk, MIT graduate, and well-known advocate for the aging. In the nineties, at the peak of his professional career and personal eldercare advocacy, Bayne was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. For the past ten years he has lived in an assisted living facility.