Aging is an adventure, not a problem, was the message of Ossie Davis, 83, to the National Medical Association. Mr. Davis, a noted writer, producer, and director, addressed a recent convention of African-American physicians. He said, "We look upon aging as a privilege not to be moaned, but as an adventure to be savored." Mr. Davis is practicing his own advice, having received the 2000 Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.
But perhaps it's not aging that is the adventure; it's living. Living is more than one day following another. Living is the activity of being. It's not merely the passing of time. It's active. The vitality of thinking and doing.
For life to be an adventure, it should be spontaneous, fun, exciting, fresh. An adventure isn't sticking to a safe routine just because it's safe. It's doing or thinking something new because there's so much to be learned. It's the joy of discovery, the surprise of spontaneity, the satisfaction of persistence.
Adventures aren't always easy. There may be bumps and obstacles along the way. Or perhaps the path is a dead end. But the adventurous spirit continues to look forward. Adventure isn't limited to one single view or a brief attempt. It's a way of thinking and living that continually seeks to explore "beyond the box."
To me, the greatest adventure is spiritual. Exploring fresh views of God and delving into the spiritual nature of His creation is refreshing and inspiring. If the daily tasks start to suck the joy out of my day, I break from the routine and do some spiritual thinking.
One day, I decided to explore the concept of God as divine Mind, the source of intelligence. Although I often turn to God, Mind, for answers to problems, this time was different. I wanted to plunge deeper into the infinite nature of Mind and discover something new. So I started making a list of all the attributes of God as Mind, beginning with the obvious - intelligence, memory, creativity, inspiration, communication, etc. Then some newer ideas came: humor, enthusiasm, courage, energy, vision. In fact, this spiritual exploration led me to consider the concept of time in relation to Mind. It occurred to me that divine Mind knows the present, past, and future. All ideas are known to Mind. So in divine Mind, time disappears in continual awareness. What an amazing thought! Suddenly, the concept of newness didn't mean time, but discovery. New views are already included in Mind, ready for the spiritual explorer to discover them.
This was helpful, especially because the reason I'd begun praying about the qualities of Mind was that I felt I had too much to do in too little time. I needed new ideas instead of rehashing old ones. After filling a page with insights into God as Mind, lots of new ideas came to me. Not only had my view of God deepened, but solutions for the problems at hand flowed spontaneously. What a fun adventure! Instead of struggling and feeling stressed, I felt restored and rejuvenated.
The Bible talks about a fountain of life and says it's found in God (see Ps. 36:9). To me, this fountain is an endless flow of fresh spiritual ideas. Like the fountain of youth sought by early explorers, the fountain of life is the spiritual renewal that prevents aging and promotes living. Pouring out deeper views of living, this fountain refreshes the human spirit. It washes away stress and strain.
And that's one way to do more living and less aging. Studies show that reducing stress is one factor that slows the aging process and increases longevity (The New England Centenarian Study, www.med.harvard.edu/programs/necs). A related factor is the ability to let go of problems, worry, and failure. Trusting God to know what to do, and to communicate to everyone, helps me stop feeling responsible for other people's thoughts and actions. It reminds me that God is quite capable, and so I can be more confident. Confidence in God as good helps me stop worrying. Persisting in seeking new concepts reminds me to be more flexible. My ideas aren't the only good ones. And sometimes the best ideas appear after repeated failures. Instead of seeing failure as a stumbling block, I try to relish it as a steppingstone, bringing me one step closer to a better solution.
Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "We live in an age of Love's divine adventure to be All-in-all" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 158). Certainly this adventure of spiritual thinking and living will lead us into longer life that is also happy and fulfilling.