I have a date for my court hearing to change my name – next month. The day after that, I have an appointment to finally get my first false tooth. It has occurred to me that I had one name for the first third of my life, and different name for the second third, and now another for the final third. It’s possible that this is actually just the third quarter, rather than the final third, but probably not. Menopause will cause a person to think this way.
Until I began to think this way, I would mostly believe that for most people, learning goes on and knowledge increases with age. I do still believe that, but I know now that we decline in some concrete ways as well. My body declines, and my brain is part of my body. My eyes and teeth and skin are worse than they were when I was younger. Not so much with my mind, but a bit. I think the experience and knowledge I’ve gained make up for a slower mind, but not entirely. And there will come a tipping point when I’m dealing with diminishing returns, and I lose more than I gain.
As far as sobriety and AA, I feel I am certainly at a point where knowledge and experience benefit me, and the ailments of my body haven’t yet impacted that experience, except that sitting in the chairs hurts my back more than it used to. Not a big problem. I can’t see the other people clearly if I don’t wear glasses, but I often prefer it that way.
Part of what has enabled me to become and oldtimer may be in the capacity I have to listen to the same things over and over again. Mostly, I still learn and grow through these things. My understanding increases. Even something like, say, listening to someone talk about gratitude. That’s a very common thing I hear in meetings time and again, year after year. Still most things people say increase my understanding, even though I’ve heard it all before. I have not mastered the art of gratitude, and people who have been practicing it for a much shorter time than me have different perspectives and experiences. Sometimes I hear the exact same thing I’ve heard many times before, but I hear it in a different way. When that happens, it makes the (sometimes) dull hours spent at meetings worth it to me.
My understanding of things like humility and serenity have increased greatly over the years. When I was new, these concepts were valuable and I grasped them enough to improve my life and make me want more. Now I have a knowledge deep within me that if I keep studying and practicing, they will increase to a still greater degree, and it is very much worth it.
Something in the literature says something like we won’t miss the hours we spend at meetings, reading and talking about the program and concepts. More than that, I come to miss the hours I don’t spend being engaged. This all makes for a final third (if I’m lucky, this could actually be it, I know) that holds lots of promise for me.