My heart is a marvelous fist-size pumping organ whose chief duty is to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the cells and organs of my body. It labors tirelessly beating approximately 800,000 - 140,000 times a day. This astonishing feat adds up to 42 million heartbeats a year.
One of the challenges of my life as an elder is to take the time and energy to do all I can to keep my heart healthy. This, of course, means following a vigorous and daily regimen which involves a eating a good diet, drinking plenty of water, stretching, walking on the treadmill, riding my tricycle, and a new interest, boxing. Taking care of my heart is important for my conscious aging. Here are some quotations that remind me of the value of conscious aging.
"In the second half of life, people have less power to infatuate you, but they also have less power to control or hurt you. It is the freedom of the second half not to need."
— Richard Rohr in Falling Upward
"Men should be explorers, no matter how old they are."
— Don Ameche as Art Selwyn in the film Cocoon
"It is not difficult to be bold when one is young. The finest audacity is that at the end of life."
— Andre Gide in Frederic Brussat's Twitter Feed
"The older we get, the more precious becomes the carpetbag of experiences we carry with us."
— Robert Atwell in Frederic Brussat's Twitter Feed
"We turn not older with years, but newer every day."
— Emily Dickinson in Frederic Brussat's Twitter Feed
It is equally important that I nurture that other heart within me — the seat of wisdom and understanding, the locus of meaning, compassion, kindness, wonder, reverence, and peace. The ancient seer Confucius called these life skills "human-heartedness." What a capacious term for embracing everything in life's pageant from greetings to table manners, to filial loyalty to respect for strangers, to worship services to leave taking. These skills of the heart can be manifested in service of the Holy One, family, and community. They all bring forth the same appreciation, devotion, sensitivity, and commitment.
Heartwork brings out the best in us and enables us to dance for joy in gratitude for the ten thousand things which enhance, deepen, and enrich our lives. Doing inner work enables us to celebrate our hearts as double duty dynamos serving as catalysts to our spiritual transformation.