My thought is that it will be a place to post things such as book recommendations and possibly thoughts of a poetic or not so poetic nature regarding the journey.
Personally, I like being in the dream I think i have chosen, but to navigate this elder reality I find that I must be willing to be in the dream that presents itself, like it or not. So let us be open to all meanderings.
I do not have the capacity to allow posts directly because of the spam that seems to come with them. On account of that if you feel you would like to say something elderish you can send me what you would like me to post and I will do that. I realize I could create a Facebook page but I am a bit reluctant as well as inept in the doing of such a thing.
Here are the notes from my presentation from our first meeting on February 4, 2018:
This gathering arose out of a conversation with a friend from which I gathered that on the journey of growing older, as we get deeper into our elder years the way forward can seem to narrow. Meaning is harder to find in both our inner and outer realities. Many of us don’t have grandchildren or a sense of legacy that seems significant. We find ourselves facing some major moments without reference points. Maybe we’re looking for context. Astrology is always good for that!
I think as elders we are like non-violent demonstrators. Below is a short piece of advice from a letter to the editor of Liberation (Magazine) dated: Dec 30, 1961 Page 95: Thomas Merton ‘Witness to Freedom: Letters in Times of Crisis
“…so we are reminded of the necessity for complete ‘purity’ in our non-violent action: complete detachment from results. We must act only because the act itself is true, and expresses the truth. We must not even demand that the truth be immediately recognized. Still less must we expect to be congratulated. On the contrary, it may well mean a cracked skull. This purity of action is the fundamental guarantee of its truth. It is the only thing that gives (the non-violent demonstrator) power against the mass media with all their money and all their influence. As for results: the truth needs only to be manifested. It can take care of itself”.
Or maybe we are like the dinosaurs. I have heard it said, many of the youngers (as distinct from elders…) are just waiting for us to die off so they can take over. Or maybe we are just facing a world where suddenly, or so it seems, there is not enough of everything; space, food, water, housing, jobs etc.
It has long seemed to me that nature offers us a natural kind of ‘enlightenment’ due to the slowing down of our bodies which allows for the opening up of our awareness. We may be worse at things like our ability to calculate numbers quickly, ease with filling out forms, or finding our keys but other things can grow and develop in us as elders; the ability to pay attention to a wider field of experience; an increase in openness toward experience and the world; a capacity to attend to the larger world in a more unbiased and objective way, not so tangled in personal subjectivity; an increased empathy toward the value and worth of those very different from ourselves; and a more broad acceptance of what life, and especially our own lives, have been about.
So elderhood contains a promise, not of dejected resignation but rather an increase in qualities that many cultures have identified as spiritual maturity and even realization.
And, the evidence suggests, it is right there in the genetic map for our human life cycle in the inborn evolution of the human brain and body.
Unfortunately in our culture many of us never get past adolescence and so we don’t get to claim this gift.
Some mornings, of late, I awake full of fear. At first I thought this was very personal. It was my fear and I had a list of ‘things’ but soon I began to see it in others. I see that there is a collective energy of fear running through us all in these chaotic times. Elders in particular can connect these to the changes in our bodies and our denial of those things, which seems to escalate fear (especially first thing in the morning). Denial seems to be fear’s greatest ally, allowing it to grow and fester in the background of our conscious awareness.
In The Awakening Body, Reginald Ray suggests that this problem has to do with the ‘extraordinary disembodiment’ that we all suffer from today and, as a result the excessive, even extreme investment each one of us has in left-brain pictures of reality-including pictures of ourselves, others, and the world.’ For more of this quote see below.
We find ourselves stuck in mental constructs with a whole lot of Facebook and Instagram which actually obscures reality. Period.
Those of you who took the workshop or read my book, Earned Wisdom, might remember one part where I talked about adolescence as a time of embodiment but eldering as a time of ensoulment. I feel it more strongly now than I did before. And I am quite certain that the soul is not enhanced by these pictures that we have in place of reality,
It’s bad enough for the adolescents but it’s also grim for the elders! What a way to go.
So here we are; faced with the need to explore what we might do to identify and possibly strengthen the gifts that come with eldering (and believe me, I do not deny the sore legs, the bad guts etc… ) Meaning is easily lost when things seem so chaotic.
And, of course, astrology as a backdrop.
When I published, Earned Wisdom: Becoming an Elder in Times of Chaos in 2011, I thought it was a good title. And I was aware that the world was chaotic but WOW! It has unfortunately lived up to my wildest nightmares, including climate change, government, refugees etc. and I do believe that most of us will end our lives in the chaos although I do also believe there will emerge something different and new on many levels.
We are a cohort of prophets. We have studied, traveled, questioned and pontificated. According to the Fourth Turning we were born in a high and it is our destiny to leave in chaos. Taking this as the given I invite you to conjure with me a way through these elder years.
The workshop for elders will be offered in Spring of 2018.
Becoming an Elder in Times of Chaos
From The Awakening Body: ‘We know that as adults age and approach death, some aspects of their previous mental functioning tend to recede, such as the left-brain analytic capacities to calculate numbers quickly, skill at crossword puzzles, ease with preparing their income taxes, and so on. At the same time, other capacities are growing and developing, including the ability to pay attention to a much wider field of experience; an increase in openness toward experience and the world; a capacity to attend to the larger world in a more unbiased and objective way, not so tangled in personal subjectivity; an increased empathy toward the value and worth in those very different from ourselves; and a more and more broad acceptance of what life, and especially their own life, has been. None of this heralds dejected resignation but rather indicates an increase in qualities that – truth be told – cultures have always identified as spiritual maturation and even realization. And, the evidence suggests, it is right there in the genetic map for our human life cycle in the inborn evolution of the human brain approaching death. The Awakening.Body. p.158
And a beautiful description of awareness by Thomas Merton, just because…
“When we are alone on a starlit night, when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children, when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet, Basho, we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash – at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the “newness,” the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident, all these provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.”