Do you agree that resistance is futile?

March 14, 2015

Ride the horsein the directionit'sThe first time I heard this was at an est seminar in the early 1980s and it made perfect sense. (It might have been one of the few things at that seminar that did.)

Back in the 1960s, it was  “go with the flow,” remember?  Go with the flow.

Resistance is futile, said the Borg on Star Trek, as they began to assimilate an alien race.

I’m not a horseback rider, but even I know that it’s virtually impossible to get anywhere if we try to ride a horse in a different direction than it’s going. It’s hard work, wasted energy and we make no progress. And going with the flow makes for a smoother path down the river, doesn’t it?  To row against the flow–who wants to row that hard? As far as the Borg are concerned, well, far be it from me to disagree with them.

My reading on aging and mortality these days points out that some things in life are inevitable–like getting older and all that goes with it.  Here’s the blunt truth: we can spend our life savings on cosmetic procedures, color our hair and exercise until our muscles become sinew–but we’re still going to get old and die.  That’s the nature of things.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do all we can to have a wonderful quality of life while we’re here. But some of the desperate attempts to hold on to youth I’ve seen in women my age remind me of trying to ride a horse backwards: lots of wasted energy and the outcome doesn’t change. We’re still in the same place we were when we started.

In a book on conscious aging called Still Here, Ram Dass points out that the declines that come with aging are a gift, really, built in by the Divine to give us the time to sit back and observe, really be with the world around us and draw closer to God by being rather than doing. Our striving days are over, and now, we’ve earned the time to just look and think, to be both witness and participant.

I’ve written before about midlife women who bemoan their so-called invisibility…what they are really bemoaning is the life shift that comes with aging.  Their fear is palpable.  Life is different and they don’t want it to be. But resistance is futile.

Ram Dass, himself, walks the talk.  He suffered a debilitating stroke almost 20 years ago and has been living with it–dependent on caretakers–all that time.  He’s had to gracefully give up the things he once took for granted, like mobility and effortless speaking and writing. As a New Age guru, I’m sure he was surrounded by young, nubile, adoring acolytes, but in this new life, he’s learned that sexuality has to take a back seat. He looks at that not with a sense of loss, but as a gift that allows him to focus on other things.

Would we be as graceful with that kind of life change? Probably not, given that just plain old aging throws many of us for a loop.

And yet, there’s no way to change the outcome.  We are all going to get old and die.  So why not go with the flow? Take the time and energy we now have and draw closer to the Divine.

Ram Dass tells us that life is more comfortable when we embrace this stage of our lives.  We still have much to offer the world. It’s just not the same stuff as when we were young.

“Wisdom,” he writes, “is one of the few things that does not diminish with age.”

Thank goodness!



26 comments on “Do you agree that resistance is futile?
  1. Excellent, Carol. I completely agree that we need to accept what life hands us, sit back and enjoy the ride. Getting older is not always pleasurable, as our bodies sometimes fail us and our minds sometimes fade as we age. But still we have life within us and should rejoice to the sounds of what we do have.

    Thanks for a wonderful post. I also love Ram Dass.

  2. When it comes to the issue of aging, yes, resistance is futile. Going with the flow as a general statement doesn’t go deep enough–but conveys the meaning you were getting at. I have spent the last couple of years learning what to let go of and what to embrace–and acceptance is key.

  3. I took EST, too and I have used this particular phrase in my life many times since the training, almost on a daily basis. Great insight as always, Carol.

  4. Funny, this has been on my mind a lot, Carol. The idea that somehow our exterior change devalues who we are internally is nothing less than absurd. There is a classic bumper sticker that reads, “Spolier alert: we are all going to die.” Indeed. Embrace the now and busy your mind with what matters. Great post.

  5. Amy says:

    Great post! It frustrates me, as I get (cough) older, that I have to feel embarrassed or sheepish about my wrinkles and gray hair and (cough) saggy muscles. Doggonit, there are positives to getting older, as you alluded to here! There are negatives, naturally, but with the proper attitude, the positives can WAY outweigh the negatives.

  6. Definitely a difficult walk to walk, especially as I approach my mid 30s. I’m trying to focus on the joys that are found with each season of life, rather than things that are no longer (like easy weight maintenance)!

  7. Karen says:

    Hmm… While I agree that resisting aging is futile, I’m very much in favour of going against the flow when that means unquestioning (or apathetic) support of what others say we should be doing.

    I think I might reframe this as “pick your battles.”

  8. Ruth Curran says:

    The gift of understanding the difference between “being” and “doing” is big isn’t it? When we allow ourselves to “be” maybe we stop the struggle of having to “do” and give in to the moment. Definitely something worth thinking about and thank you for that Carol.

    It may sound strange but I don’t think you really know how you are going to react to an assault on your body (whether that is disease or incident) or that huge serving of humble pie that comes with a life changing experience until you get there. I went to an est seminar in early ’80s as well but I think I was too busy “doing” to take anything away!

  9. Love this Carol. I like to use this example. Want to get to point A and the most obvious way would be to go directly to it from point B. But, we don’t always take the direct path. We actually turn around and go in the opposite direction.

  10. Haralee says:

    Great Post Carol. We all go through stages in life and some of us can accept and some of us can not. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a friend or co-worker say “If I Die” and then say what she or he wants for their children, for their family.

  11. Estelle says:

    As always, Carol you expose me to new books and teaching. I have to check out Ram Dass. I feel that I get better as a person, writer and partner as I get older. I think that is the mindset we need to challenge ourselves to acquire.

  12. Kimba says:

    I struggle with “go with the flow” if it’s equated with giving up. Making peace with your destiny is one thing is important. It’s really all about attitude, right?

  13. I don’t know that resistance is futile, but I tend to gauge more and more now as I get older whether resisting is worth the trouble. Sometimes it is; sometimes it isn’t. The key is knowing when to resist, when to let it go, let things flow.

  14. hmmm “go with the flow” never really appealed to me so much… I don’t like to follow; I like to be my own man so to speak

  15. harriet says:

    You make a lot of good points. There is so much to think about too.

  16. Let’s facing it aging stinks. Gravity starts to go into effect and our bodies just are not the same!

  17. K. Lee Banks says:

    This topic of aging – and trying to resist it – is especially on my mind this month, since I’ll turn 57 on the 29th. It amazes me how many products are available that all claim to “cure” or “turn back” the effects of aging. I admit I’ve tried a few; but there really are no miracle “cures” for the inevitable! I think the best ideas are to eat healthy, exercise, and keep my mind sharp!

  18. I loved this Carol. Almost 5 years ago I was so close to death. I laid in the ICU for weeks getting blood transfusions one after the other. It changed me greatly and I wouldn’t change what happened for anything. I’ve never been happier in my life and I’m going to enjoy every second that I have!

  19. Lisa Rios says:

    A great post, a very well written article indeed. I think we all have to go through various phases in life where we face ups & downs & moving on with the flow will help us survive & succeed. Thanks for sharing & inspiring.

  20. Carolann says:

    Ah so very true but as of this second, I am here and enjoying every second of it! It’s not the aging that bothers me, it’s the fear of the unknown…and even in that…you are so right. Resistance is futile. So yes! Seize and enjoy the day! Great post Carol!

  21. I agree with all your thoughts on aging. Thank you for pointing out the POINT. Yes, I’ll sit back and contemplate the meaning of life without all the pesky temptations that tempt those who are younger. Great post.

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