Senior Stress

This Friday I will address a group of high school seniors about stress management.  It’s an interesting challenge for me and one I’ve been thinking about all week. As I look back to my own senior year in high school, it stands out as one of the most stressful periods of my life.At that time I had virtually no ability to tolerate the unknown.  I didn’t know where I would go to college, or even where to apply.  I didn’t know what part of the country I wanted to live in, what I wanted to study, or what I wanted to do when I ‘grew up.’  My life felt like one overwhelming question mark, which completely freaked me out.The obvious message that I could convey to these seniors is that life eventually works out … endings lead to beginnings … and then they end too, leading to more beginnings.  You live into the answers … jobs, moves, friends, marriages, births, deaths … all coming and going.  But I think there’s a deeper message to share as well, one that shifts the emphasis from ‘outer’ peace (situations working out one way or another) to ‘inner’ peace (accepting the mysteries).In fact, as I approach being a senior again, senior citizen that is (… well, not just yet, but it’s coming …), I guess I’d like to hear the same message to myself.  When the inevitable questions arise – Can I afford to retire? If so, what will I do with my time? Will I live near grandchildren? – I want to be able to breathe deeply and trust the unfolding of life.  True ‘stress management’ isn’t about having a detailed map of the journey, it’s about relaxing even when you don’t know the way.  I wish this inner peace for all the seniors of the present and the future.

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