Everything old is new again – if you allow it. 1 Reply I love seeing things differently. Learning new things. Realizing something I never considered before. Exploring various perspectives. And the only way to go about doing any of these things is to ask questions…lots of them. Of yourself. Of others who know better. Of others who think differently. Of the world in general. In the process of all my questioning, searching, seeking and learning, I have met a lot of interesting people. Phenomenal teachers. People who have guided me, supported me and challenged me to live a life of my choosing and design, with all my past, all my flaws and all my dreams rolled into one. Most of these teachers I have sought out, but sometimes a teacher just shows up, quietly and unexpectedly. I initially met JoAn a couple of years ago when I began visiting the Des Moines Zen Center. Her always smiling face, sparkling eyes, kind demeanor, welcoming nature and magnetic energy level drew me to her. I see her regularly during weekly zazen (40-minute meditation sessions), art and yoga classes offered at the center, and even the all-day sesshin (meditation) I spoke of in a previous blog. In our various conversations, she’s spoken of swimming, seeing shows, spending time with friends and family, teaching, gardening. Clearly, she’s an active and on-the-go lady. Not really a big deal until you realize she’s 83 years old! Recently, I was fortunate enough for JoAn to share her passion for gardening with me. She invited me to share some garden space, on a plot of land that belongs to her family, just south of the city. This past week, we decided to share a ride out to the garden. I picked her up on my way out of town, and our drive provided the time to have a more in-depth conversation then we’ve previously had. Despite the 40 additional years she has spent on this earth, I realized how much we shared in common. – being independent, passionate women, being mothers (of 7 in her case, 1 in mine), being sisters and daughters, having been married and divorced. We filled each other in on our children, and her grandchildren, our marriages and why they had ended, our careers, our interests, our physical health, our psychological hurts. But the details of our lives weren’t the only link that was resonating with me. It was our questioning nature. Our want to understand more. To be the best version of ourselves, no matter what stage of life we were in. The parallelism that existed in the life questions we were asking. And the fact that we were both asking them. 40 years separating our life spans. Her life and experiences all hers, mine all mine – yet, no matter what the details, the commonalities or the differences, we were both seeking. Sorting. Striving. Accepting. Allowing. Willing. That is what connected us. That is what I was so drawn to. And looking into her bright eyes and beaming smile, I realized that is what it’s all about – whether we’re 10, or 40, or 80 or 100. A lot changes over the course of a lifetime. A lot happens. Yet however similar, everyone’s experience is unique. No matter what, being willing to love, willing to understand, willing to learn, willing to ask life’s questions – and stay open to the answers – that’s what connects us. Makes us one and the same whether we’re 43 or 83 (or 103, which is my hope for JoAn). I was first exposed to this concept when I was just 17 years old, in my high school literature and writing class. I chose to do my senior thesis on Ralph Waldo Emerson. A spark was ignited in me by his quote, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” And 25 years later, I’m still reminded. Never had it resonated with me more than in this moment – in this exact exchange with JoAn. No matter where we are on the timeline of our lives – which we never really know because, for any of us, it could all be over today or tomorrow. No matter our chronological age, the experience of living can be like new. You can be 90 years old and looking at the world with fresh eyes. JoAn is no less living today then she was at my age. She’s wise. She’s wise because she has lived. She’s wise because she keeps living – asking life’s questions – which allows her to grow, to be open to life, and to expand. And I am wiser – and blessed – for knowing her. I have never looked more forward to the years before me – starting with today – and each moment I am graced to be alive – and more importantly to feel alive. What will be next? How can I grow? Love more? What will I get to experience? What can I share? It’s so exciting! What are you questioning? And if you’re not asking questions, why not? I would love to hear from you below. And don’t forget to click on the Weekly Adventure Challenge. It’s where we put our thoughts into action!