What Can We Expect as We Age?

Bill Abbate

How do you see time? If you are young, you may not give it much thought other than in the short term. As you age, you become more aware of the importance of time. I recall when I hit 30 and thinking how quickly time had flown. It occurred to me I was becoming part of the "establishment" that the counterculture movement of the 60s and 70s railed against. I was becoming old!

Little did I realize I was just starting life at 30, but time was becoming more meaningful. Fast forward to turning 50. I recall feeling very similar to when I was 30 insofar as how I saw time and how fast it seemed to flow. After all, I still had many good years ahead, or so it seemed at the time.

The following year disaster struck, shaking my world at its core. Charlotte, my wife of 32 years, was diagnosed with lung cancer and given three to five years to live. I recall thinking at least she had some time. Of course, I was focused on her living at least another five years, yet it was not to be. Six months later, she died. Because of her age, when the cancer metastasized, it spread rapidly through her body. That three to five years became days by comparison.

The entire concept of time changed drastically for me at that point. In fact, many things changed for me. Since then, I see time, work, relationships, possessions, and life in general through a very different lens. I now understand how precious time is and value it far more than I could have otherwise.

What is time like in your 60's and beyond? It goes by faster. So fast some weeks flow like days!

A second life-changing event happened when I hit 62. The last thing I or anyone expected was that I would have a heart attack. I was physically active and very fit, working out regularly, running many events, doing sprint triathlons and 150-mile bike races. I doubt there were many 60-year-old+ individuals near that fitness level.

If you know me though, when I do something, I go for broke, so I not only had one but four widowmakers in one day! A widowmaker is a very different kind of heart attack. I still have no clogged arteries, although I now have two stints. My doctor said plaque came off a damaged part of an artery, completely blocking my blood flow.

Having always had normal cholesterol and blood pressure I had no way of suspecting such a thing could happen. Especially after passing a nuclear stress test only a few years earlier with flying colors! Fortunately, no bypass surgery or pacemaker was required. Although I live with heart damage and can no longer run or bike like I used to, I am thankful to be alive and reasonably healthy. But boy, do I miss running!

I adjure you to use your time wisely. Give it some thought before it is too late. Make the best use of every day you have remaining on earth. Life is short. Too short. And it only goes by quicker and gets shorter the longer you live.

As a Christian, I am glad I have the promise of eternity beyond this life. Some say this life is all there is, but I prefer to believe the end of this life will be the beginning of a far better life for those of us who believe. It gives me hope for today and tomorrow. Without that hope, what meaning can life contain? Time will tell who is right; you can be certain of that!

A major life lesson I have learned in the past couple of decades is how much appreciation can bring into your life. As I often say, what you appreciate, appreciates! The more you value something, especially time or a relationship, the more value you receive from it. Being thankful and appreciating life makes every day a new opportunity, for which I am incredibly grateful!

Final thoughts

The sooner you discover the importance of time, the more you will become inspired to use what you have left wisely.

May you realize the importance of time, appreciate what you have remaining, and create a fulfilled life because of that realization.

Time is precious. Life can change in an instant, so please cherish what you have left. Scripture alludes to the fact that "no man is promised tomorrow." How true as who knows what tomorrow will bring.

I wish you a long, healthy, and good life and leave you with the words of the very wise man who inspired this article:

"One realizes the full importance of time only when there is little of it left. Every man's greatest capital asset is his unexpired years of productive life." Paul W. Litchfield (1875-1959)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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