“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” ~ Unknown
Growing old is the school of wisdom.
We are taught to read, write and calculate equations, then we are released into the wild. We are sent out like sheep among wolves, not knowing what was beyond the barrier of our books. But beautifully, it is the wild itself that teaches us about the wisdom of life. We come out with lessons no teacher or parent could have described better than the experience itself.
And although lessons differ from person to person, they allow us to proceed like wolves. Life is a field of stealth kills and we can use these lessons to both protect ourselves and open ourselves up.
As a self-trained wolf, I’ve learned an abundance of lessons.
I’ve learned that almost every face we know is a face in disguise. If we look closer, we can behold the mask that everyone wears. Our truest friends can become our worst enemies in a second, and the ones we never thought would be by our side appear with the flick of a switch.
I’ve learned that decades do not define real friendships. It’s not the years that count, it’s the person.
I’ve learned that there isn’t one kind of love. We will fall in love so many times and every love will be different. There isn’t “the one” we’re all waiting for. Every person we have loved was “the one” at that particular time.
I’ve loved and I’ve lost and I’ve learned that this is where beauty rests. Losing is another form of winning, because change is the only constant. People leave, things change—what “is” today will not be tomorrow and if we dwell on what has gone, we will miss what is yet to come.
As time flies by, I’m also learning that not every person we love will love us back. And this has taught me unconditional love. Now I love without expecting anything in return.
I’ve experience good times and bad, which has taught me that sadness is another form of happiness. It’s okay to cry, to be vulnerable. Only through darkness will we appreciate the grace of light.
I taught myself to live and express whatever I am feeling at this moment. I don’t fight to escape any state I am currently in. I’ve learned to embrace both cycles—good and bad—and accept them as my own.
I’ve learned that the only religion that exists is the religion of love and I’m a loyal devotee. I came to realize that God isn’t a person who lives among the clouds. God is nature. God is people. God is happiness. God is me and you.
And so, I’ve learned to pray. But I don’t pray to a particular Deity—I simply pray for the universe. I pay gratitude daily for my health and existence.
I’ve learned that I will fail. I will fail on so many levels, but that doesn’t mean I won’t succeed. Be it a job, relationship or journey, I will only succeed when I am being authentic, beautiful and truthful. Failure comes when I do things simply to please other people. I’ve learned that the only person I should aim to please is myself—whoever loves me will love me for who I am and not what they wish me to be.
These are the people I’ve learned to appreciate. They are the ones who deserve a resting place in my heart.
Having been surrounded by all kinds of people, I’ve learned that no one is bad. Everyone has good in them, even if they don’t see it. Whoever has done me wrong, has wronged himself as well. Whoever hurt me, hurt himself. But the people who hurt the most are the people who need love the most.
I’ve learned that money, degrees and titles are nothing but egos that wear us. I’ve come to see that my happiness goes beyond what money or a title can offer me. The only title I aim to receive is the title of goodness.
I’ve learned to live my present moment instead of planning. And if I do plan, I don’t expect my plan to turn out the way I want. I flow with the river of life, because I know my boat will never fail me.
I’ve learned to take risks and delve into the sea of uncertainty. The known is boring and vicious—it’s a poison we drink to stay alive. But the truth is, it is slowly killing us. No adventure, no insanity, no journey can kill me. Only certainty will.
I’ve learned is to love myself. If I don’t love myself, I won’t be able to protect myself from the other wolves out there. Loving myself has opened my eyes to what I deserve and what I don’t, what I’ll accept and what I won’t.
I’ve learned to keep learning. This life is an endless book with endless lessons. Every second is a teacher and every day is a class.
And with the strength of a wolf, I’ve learned how to die before I die. I practice death every moment and am learning to embrace impermanence before impermanence embraces me. I am learning that death isn’t physical. And so as I live, I try to kill my ego, my desires, my attachments and my fears.
Our visit to planet earth is quite short so I’ve learned to make the best of my time. We’re only here once.
And I’m learning to appreciate this.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Annie Spratt/Unsplash