What do you want to be when you grow up?

Do you remember as a child or youth being asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For me back then, the question thrilled my young mind like a magical parable. Each time I heard it, I believed that whatever I could imagine as the best of all things to be, I had only to say it and my wish would be granted. But somewhere along the way, such questions stopped being asked. (Was it in college or grad school, when I became a parent, or took my first “real job” with benefits and a monthly salary?) At some point, I no longer heard, “What do you plan to do, to be, to make of yourself?”

Maybe you have been there, too. Maybe there was a time when you (or others) stopped dreaming you into the future. If so, it is never too late to begin again.

How might your life be different if along with the question from your early years, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” yet another question was asked, “What do you want to be when you grow old, and older, and older still?” What if you learned early to regard elderhood not as a time of demise but one of harvest, not as the end of adulthood, but as the expansion of it, a chance to take the lasting lessons and assets of a lifetime and make the most of them?

It is never too early or too late to dream your elder self into being or to harness the healing powers by which to live a good long life or (when the time comes) to die a good and peaceful death. So, go ahead. Dare. Dare to dream it. Ask yourself every day: “What do I want to be when I grow old and older, and older still?”

(Excerpts from Shea’s new book, Doing Grief in Real Life: A Soulful Guide to Navigate Loss, Death & ChangeDoingGrief.com)