“A person must never be old… Being elderly is a vice; a person must always renew, start over and begin again.” —Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, 1772-1810
Rebbe Nachman, the famous sage and mystic, taught that age shouldn’t stop us from starting over. He, himself, made uncountable new beginnings, even many times each day!
The Rebbe wasn’t necessarily talking about starting over with material reality. He was talking about new beginnings in personal, spiritual growth.
Spiritual growth might mean reaching higher in prayerful meditation, but it often is as simple as helping others, being kinder to others and yourself, being truthful, not hating or losing your temper, being grateful for what you have and who you are, and so on.
In Judaism, true personal growth is automatically spiritual growth.
Rebbe Nachman teaches us that when felt he had not achieved what he set out to, he’d start again. He even began focusing on his personal growth at a very young age (before the age of six), and he kept on until his passing. But he emphasized that you could, and should, begin at any age.
How can you tell if you are renewing yourself and growing? One clue is: You experience much joy.
Joy is more sublime than thrills, excitement, or even pleasure. In the Jewish-mystical sense, joy is a belief and a feeling combined, knowing that you matter, what you do matters, and that you were Created for a purpose.
But joy isn’t passive. We have to reach out and grab it, even manufacture it. Rebbe Nachman encouraged people to sing joyful songs, dance—even make silly, slightly foolish, jokes.
We may not all be spiritual superstars, but we are nearly all capable of starting again. Even taking a tiny beginner’s step can start to renew and reveal the true you.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a woman or a man, what religion or race, or state of health. Digging down deep inside, connecting with your true self, and the Creator, is possible at any age. 60. 70. 80. 90. Even 100!
This isn’t a dream, it’s reality. We’ve seen it occur again and again. We’ve seen a friend began to make a spiritual fresh start at age 94 which he kept renewing until it blossomed into full strength before his death at age 97.
Just remember: The so-called barriers of aging are not barriers to finding the true you. They may slow you down physically, but they can actually free you, spiritually.
Photo by Cécile Graat. Her website is GraCe Design.