When I read the obituary of Rita Levi-Montalicini, an Italian scientist and Nobel-Prize winner for brain research, I felt greatly inspired by her life. The remarkable thing about Rita is that although she died in Rome at the age of 103, she was still working until close to her death. She lived with an attitude of curiosity and a constant need to renew her understanding. Her attitude compelled her to dedicate her efforts to investigative science that contributed to humanity. She believed in becoming better as she grew older despite the failings of her body. She believed that she was more than her physical body and her body’s abilities and described how she got flashes of insight when, sometimes even unwillingly, contemplated puzzling problems. She remarked that difficult moments should not be feared because they often deliver the best insights and growth. What an amazing woman she was.
Despite never being married or having children she never felt lonely or deprived. What a positive attitude. Her father believed that a professional career would interfere with the duties of a wife and mother as many people of that time believed. When she therefore opted for a professional career she completely dedicated herself to it.
The aspect of her life that most impresses me is her attitude towards aging. I love that she felt herself getting better with age. It was as if she ‘tuned in’ more powerfully to the subtleties of how the universe worked and got insights because of the fact that she could no longer hear or see so well. She made the best of her maturing faculties and never doubted her potential and significance as a human being in spite of her ageing.
Now that I am closing in on 60 and so aware of my body aging, I want to cultivate an attitude of appreciation for being a growing developing human that is constantly improving with age. The improvement I am talking about here is a ‘depth of being’; richer and more mature in understanding and working with life by continuing to be productive and original. That also means that I will take care of my physical body too as much as I am capable of.
I invite you to join me in this positive attitude – always looking for the opportunity to learn and give back what you have learned. Be original instead of copying others; be productive instead of repeating the same old patterns; be inventive instead of tiresome. Grow and mature with dignity and share the ‘meaningfulness’ you have found in your life.
Blessings for 2013,