(Ed. Note: The following are a few excerpts from the new book Midlife Radiance by Dilia Suriel. The book may be purchased at the Diane Pearl Collection in Ajijic.)
For many ex-pats Lake Chapala is not merely a region in Jalisco; it represents a conscious commitment to a vibrant quality of life and reflects an arrival at an important stage of their lives. Seventy-year-olds are not invisible in Lake Chapala; their lifestyle involves more than staying home, taking pills, embodying physical challenges, and watching television. Instead their lifestyle springs from a decision that at 80, they are tackling a new language, mastering a new currency, forming new friendships, and embracing their life’s passions.
Picasso observed that “It takes a long time to become young.” These radiant seniors don’t ask themselves what the world needs; they ask themselves what makes them come alive, because what the world needs are people who have come alive. Living at Lakeside has crystallized the qualities that contribute to radiance:
Self-Acceptance: Radiance is animated by confidence that is anchored upon self-worth, an acceptance not only of one’s gifts but also of one’s frailties and challenges; radiance embraces the fullness of one’s humanity. Emerson encapsulated it best, “Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.”
Gratefulness: “If you are given all of this beauty, the amazing lakeside community, the heart of the Mexican people and you have no appreciation, no awe for any of it, what makes you think that anything else will make you fulfilled, or happy, or grateful?” It is a profound invitation to accept the many gifts offered by this radiant community that I have wholeheartedly embraced them with an awakened ‘Thank You.’
Belief systems: Sometimes we fail to acknowledge that our opinion of the world is also a confession of character, for example when our own limited vision is then projected as the limits of the world.
Attitude: One of my new lakeside friends has lived a privileged life and embodies midlife radiance: I asked “Have you ever experienced setbacks?’ She quoted Zohar: “There is a palace that opens only to tears.” What she shared was that disappointment is an opportunity to ask, “What is the lesson being offered? What must I transcend in order to gain access to the gift being offered to me?” Her response reminded me of Gibran’s quote: “I have learned silence from the talkative, Tolerance from the intolerant, Kindness from the unkind.” Yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.
Humor: The shortest distance to another’s heart is through humor. When his friends are sick, instead of chicken soup, or flowers, one of my radiant friends brings them funny films. I asked him about those skeptical of this treatment and he suggested quoting Ashley Brilliant: “You don’t like me, I don’t like you, what else do we have in common?”
Being Present: “Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.” ~Wittgenstein. The Zen practice purports that most suffering is an intellectual interpretation of fears that take us out of “this” moment.
As we age, we realize that we will only witness a handful more harvest moons, afternoons of children laughing or tears of a friend in need. These gifts are offered to many of us but only fully appreciated by those who live in the frequency of “radiance.”
Spirituality: “My religion is very simple – my religion is kindness.” ~Dalai Lama. “Radiance” embraces a large dosage of kindness and helps us understand the significant distinction between religion and spirituality.
Learning: Einstein once stated “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” Pablo Casals, then age 93, when asked why he continued to practice the cello three hours each day, replied “I’m beginning to notice some improvement.”
So what is this “Midlife Radiance?” It is a final acceptance of our true essence? It is simply giving up that which no longer contributes to us? Kafka summarized it best when he stated, “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com
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