Around the age of 70, many of us become aware of entering the last stage of life.
We have a choice to “grow” old consciously or to ignore its possibility by ignoring the gifts it may offer.
What wonderful responses I received from “Right Time, Right Path: Now.” Such wisdom you sent my way. I wish you could have read one another’s insights and I’m working on a way we might do that. (Suggestions accepted!) It’s obvious a conversation is wanting to happen–many of you seem to be at the same juncture as I.
Here are some insights offered:
One woman writes of the unfinished manuscripts under the bed:
I can’t seem to get back to them (the manuscripts) and feel them growing old, not unlike myself. It doesn’t feel like “writers’ block,” but I watch myself flitting from one thing to another, and not focusing much on anything, partly in an attempt to squeeze in experience as I approach my 70th birthday.
I began experiencing this in my late 60s and my 70th birthday was a shock in a way I didn’t expect.
Another says she is in the same place and wonders if it’s from recovering from breast cancer and two surgeries.
I have had a broken leg, TIA, and back surgery between December 2010 and January 2014. Certainly physical problems remind us of our immortality and rearrange our priorities.
In this moment, all my needs are met.
A mantra like “In this moment, all my needs are met” was suggested on the basis of the experience of another writer. This particular frontier, however, has not felt like depression or even discouragement, at which times I find affirming statements most helpful. I feel more like I’ve crossed to a new land and don’t know the territory. The experience is at once exciting and daunting.
Another woman described her life as a “sea of uncertainty.” As a result she began making a list with each item beginning “I am certain…” She equated the exercise with a gratitude list or Oprah’s “This I know for sure.” She ended her response with these words, “…you are not alone in your waiting period. Surely there is grace in waiting and not fixing.”
An author of a book of reflections about modern womanhood said she recognized the experience of which I spoke. Her underlying fear was “permanently losing my way, as well as becoming -?-obsolete.” She has moved forward, with little clarity, is flowing with the river, and has “quit trying to swim upstream.” She too returned to reading her own book, particularly a place in which she speaks of the importance of “internal combustion.”
Another wrote that she now believes that whatever road she’s on is the right road, that she’ll understand once she’s traveled it. She sees, when she looks back, that all the pieces of her life, good and bad, come together to contribute invaluable learning and expansion in her understanding. Her suggestion? “Stay awake, say ‘yes’–if not to the experience, to the understanding.”
Another comment: “Lately, I’ve wondered if instead of making a big splash with a book or inspiring article, perhaps it is more about being a living example. My life is all that I have and perhaps I need to be satisfied with a small drop of sharing that gives hope and inspiration to those who cross my path. Thus, I try to live more in touch with my opening heart and watch the people, events, and opportunities for connection that cross my path.”
I do find that when I’m facing a transition or a quandary that answers and opportunities show up synchronistically. One of these was finding, in exchange for signing up for the author’s blog, the free fifty-page e-book River Diary: My Summer of Grace, Solitude and 35 Geese on carolorsborn.com. Download this book! I savored every word, as did my husband. Included in Carol’s reveries are the last two stanzas of “A Morning Offering” by John O’Donohue, from his To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
A common thread runs through my experience, your comments, the River Diary, and O’Donohue’s poem: aging triggers a change, physically, mentally, spiritually that invites us to a fork in the road where we must choose between living out our past by hanging onto old images of ourselves and “risk being disturbed and changed” by shedding these images and moving into a new vision of ourselves, truly “growing” old. Although these words are mine, they are the result of sitting at the bottom of my garden, ala Carol Orsborn by her river, and reading another now favorite book, Old Age: Journey into Simplicity by Jungian psychologist, Helen Luke. (My favorite chapters are the first about Odysseus and one on T.S. Elliot’s “Little Gidding”.
To learn more about this part of my journey, please see my blog–and respond too!