I am returning home today after a few days away at the lake. A few days of respite from the busyness of life that we all experience where there are commitments and deadlines and loads of pressure. I have entered the much slower pace of life in the south, where my friend who is a southern native says the slower pace is because it's hotter in the south and people move slower to avoid sweating. We laugh when he says this and I think to myself whatever the reason, I'll take it in heaping doses. I'll accept the invitation to slow down and sit for a while on the porch with nowhere to be and good conversation while swatting away the mosquitoes.
One of our conversations while floating with carefreeness in the lake involved the idea of being in your prime and what does that even mean? Society defines it as being at your best. Young, healthy, full of vigor, and ready to take on the world.
I think about this for a moment as we are talking. I think about the elderly I have met who move slowly and have fewer years ahead of them than the younger generation, yet their perspective and zeal for life is palpable.
I wrote once about aging with grace, and about an elderly woman, I had the pleasure of meeting. She wore a perfect shade of pink lipstick as she met us in her driveway with a smile and invited us into her home. The lines of time were etched on her face, but I would not have guessed her in her nineties. Time had been kind to her, or maybe she had learned to wear it well.
Her eyes were young and danced in a way that held a lifetime of stories and a carefree spirit. We small talked while my daughter played on the floor by my feet, pulling vintage toys by a string with the contentment of her new found treasures. As the conversation evolved, I could hear the loneliness of being widowed in her words. "I don't understand why I had to be alone for so long," she said. It hung in the air for a moment. I thought to myself how our nagging questions don't discriminate who they haunt. They come to us all, and they don't always get answered with time. But she carried hers differently, and perhaps that's the reason she was able to play and dance with my daughter with a grace and agility that surprised me and made me want to get on the floor myself.
I have also met young people whom time has not been kind to, and they have not learned yet how to wear it well. Young in years and ancient at heart. Aged before their time by bitterness with a resulting lack of longing for life, wonder, and adventure.
So what does it really mean to be in your prime? And how do we measure it anyway when none of us really know how many days we are given in this life?
"However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all " Ecclesiastes 11:8 (NIV)
Maybe we have the whole thing backward. Maybe being in our prime is not measured by how many lines we have on our face, or how great or not great we look in our swimsuits (lifelong learning curve over here). Perhaps this realization will stop us from the lengths we are willing to go to preserve our youth. Maybe it will prevent us from wishing away the gift of added years to our life, from concealing our age when our birthday rolls around or resenting the effects of gravity and time that reveal themselves in the mirror.
Maybe we will awaken to the realization that our quality of life is not measured by how great our life looks on social media. It's not determined by the likes a post receives, by the affirmation we get or don't get from the people we think we should. It's not dependent on someone else's stamp of approval or acknowledgment of our work. Did you know that Vincent Van Gogh only sold one piece of artwork while he was alive? But he kept painting anyway because it's what he loved to do. It wasn't until after his death that around 2,000 pieces of his art were discovered which are valued in millions today.
I don't know what keeps you from living your best life right now. Maybe it's the worries of the day (all hands raised). Perhaps it's looking over your shoulder at the regret of yesterday. Or an area of healing that you need that interferes with your ability to show up and be fully present in the here and now.
Whatever it is, I pray you will invite the Father into that space. Invite in healing and clarity to what keeps you from your best life. Truth is, you are in your prime today right in the here and now. There is no promise of tomorrow, and there is no return to yesterday. Being in your prime is being fully alive in whatever present moment you find yourself in, regardless of your age. It's taking whatever circumstance has been handed to you and choosing to live your best life in the midst of it. There is no better time than this moment to embrace your one and only life.