Q – QUOTES & QUESTIONS
He explained to me with great insistence that every question possessed a power that did not lie in the answer (italics mine). Elis Wiesel (Night)
Why do people always expect authors to answer questions? I am an author because I want to ask questions. If I had answers, I’d be a politician. Eugene Ionesco
A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. Maya Angelou
Quest is at the heart of what I do – the holy grail, and the terror that you’ll never find it, seemed a perfect metaphor for life. Jeanette Winterson
The quest for riches darkens the sense of right and wrong. Antiphanes
I like quotes; many quotes contain unstated questions within them and therefore remain open to the reader to digest in any way they wish. For me, it is not important to ‘understand’ the viewpoint being expressed because that is limited and fixed and closes it. What I appreciate is that the quote opens me up in a way not experienced before. It may be a pang of recognition; I may disagree yet see a grain of truth expressed; I may see a great truth succinctly expressed in a few words and I feel my thirst quenched.
I like subversive quotes that have a flavour of anarchy or nihilism and disturb my peace of mind. Helen Rowland: Love, the quest; marriage, the conquest; divorce, the inquest.
It’s apt that the word question contains ‘quest’ within it. Our quest in life ends only when we stop asking questions – about who we are, our place in this mystery of life as we experience it with all its up and downs.
The more we listen and learn from our experiences, the more questions we have as we continue the quest to know ourselves and our place in the world better. There are no certainties in life (besides taxes and death – and aging). Certainty is too fixed and allows for no room to manoeuvre. Uncertainty and ambiguity never ends and is the magic ingredient that assists us to continue unfolding and becoming as we age. We may not know our destiny with any certainty; how limiting it would be if we did and would quell the mysteries of life.
Artists of all kinds and throughout all times have a quest to better describe the human condition.
The question invariably leads us somewhere. Some say that part of the ‘answer’ is in the question. Life always brings up questions, and the only foolish question is the one that is not asked.
Do you ask yourself questions about how you are living and aging?
P – PATH
Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.
This time of aging is a time of preoccupation and paying attention. The paradox is that it is a paradox. Feeling the time constraint, do possibilities really become limited or do we delude ourselves and use this as an excuse? Is this line of reasoning not at peril to the personality? The development of self has no time limit and is lodged more in the sacred space than the profane one. Our lives continue to have purpose, even when we are depressed, in despair, feel lost and unable to find the path. Like any stage of life, as we age, we have the possibility of progression through it or the choice to be overwhelmed and succumb to the emotional conflicts and distress. Our projects and activities mean keeping an active dialogue with the unconscious and using it as our guide. There are so few guides given about aging and its process of unfolding and becoming. We could consult our dreams…
What are the priorities now? They change as life does; and moves with the rhythm of our existence. We want to take pride in where we are and what we have done and plan to do. We want to use the present to reflect our persona with a connection to the depths of our being. We do not want to be bound by what ‘should’ be but by how we are, really and authentically. Our sense of self is more definite now, just like how we have definitely developed a certain preference for our coffee or tea.
We are on a path. It has twists and turns and each day and each moment we select this one and not that. We are limited and expanded at the same time. One moment we are private, passive, personal and protected and then at another, public and seen. One enhances the other. The path alters but in honesty we will prefer this over that. In time we are what we have chosen. The path defines us as much as we do it. In a way it is a relief to narrow the choices and be a specialist.
And, our path also holds surprises like when we post-menopausal women, older than the age of fertility, dream of being pregnant. Actually, it is not uncommon for many women after menopause to have dreams of pregnancy, giving birth, caring for children, breast feeding. Of course this makes sense, as inner creativity, or new birth, is not contingent on having an actual child. It is representative of potential that continues through the life cycle if we remain true to our fate and live with consciousness, in the flowering of our being.
Lastly, in order to do all this, we have the gift and problem of patience. Patience is a hard road. It makes for slow travel, minute attention, personal reflection, feeling. It is a requirement and a form of glue for the rest to work. Nothing happens fast anyhow. Why is this so hard to practise? Transformation and fulfilment is beyond age and time. Patience transcends both as well. The development of our psyche is unending and just keeps on going. The path is made more palatable with patience.
Are you patient on your path?
O: OBSTACLES & OBSTRUCTIONS
I’m interested in people who have to overcome obstacles, people who are not sheltered by the umbrella of the establishment, marginals.
As we age, obstacles and obstructions are prevalent and harder to bear. We trip over a blade of grass or slip on wet ground and our healing happens slower. Our partners and friends die … We’ve stiffened our spines before yet, paradoxically, made them more flexible; and continue to do so as we observe and digest and make our way through this particular stage of our lives.
We hit brick walls which cast their shadows -
Leonardo da Vinci ‘Shadow is the obstruction of light … necessary …’
Life continues to throw us slings and arrows even as we age and as they have throughout our life span. We feel at times as if this ‘opposition’ will never lessen and we will never be free of it.
Obstruction – of justice; fallen trees in the road; burning tyres on roads in protest of bad service delivery; our work colleagues obstruct us in some way; our partners oppose or friends ostracise us; ideas meet opposition; we find something objectionable in what so-and-so said or what we ourselves feel ..
Obstacles – can they be stepping stones as we tackle and manoeuvre through them? We learn how to manoeuvre around obstacles and obstructions with our knowledge gained as we age along the way. We know that each manoeuvre will be different to the last. Each experience and manoeuvre brings forth a new attitude, a stripping away or an adding on.
The lotus flower emerges so beautifully from the mud (its natural and fertile habitat) and its petals open slowly one by one, a thousand of them. We can be like the lotus flower emerging from the mud of our past and present obstacles and open, one by one, like the petals, in the moment, as we learn to live with ambiguity, uncertainty and paradox.
‘Certainty’ has no movement; uncertainty allows for possibilities of the unknown.
We can write about the mud, dance about it, paint it, cook it, heat it up, shape it, observe and engage in it, wonder about our reaction to it and how we overcame it, what opportunity actually arose from being in the mud.
We can be like the orchid, which can even thrive on neglect; sometimes it needs dryness. Yet, it needs an occasional drop of water to feed it. We can add that drop of water to what has been neglected within, and let ourselves continue to blossom, until we fall back into the earth, to be renewed yet again. Like the rose that in order to be complete, has and needs thorns on its stem.
Do you think shadows can provide stepping stones? Are we sometimes our own worst obstruction?
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.
Now is powerful and loaded, heavy with the limit of the day and yet contains a fullness with its possibilities. Now is ripe. It is juicy. You can feel it to the bone.
And, while it should be easy to stay in the now, it is not so. Being present is so very difficult. The now requires being in touch with the truths of our nature, living like the animals and in the moment of the current need, desire, want, fulfillment. Compulsions, drives, ego satisfactions are actions that often take us out of the now. Striving for outer achievements, hiding real desires, doing it for adulation, money or just to be perfect do so as well. (and thus take us out of the now)
The word ‘no’ narrows the world. The stress of not living or living in a state of nothingness and the unnatural, plague us too often and then fill up the now. The no to the present moment usually is based on some past upsets or future anticipations and these erase the present. Then, all feelings are vanished.
The ‘no’ to now implies conflict and can lead to numbing, behaviours of denial and distress, and essentially cause an avoidance of being. We lose the ability to note the need of the present day or the psyche, or the need of personal fulfillment. ‘No’ too often arises from fear and transposes into a deprivation artificially imposed. It is not a matter of merely saying yes but understanding more about what is going on beyond the limits imposed by ‘no’. This means getting into the complexities of the now.
Yet, to get there we go through what is called the stage of the nigredo, an alchemical term denoting the darkness, the shadow, the mud and the promises held within that we do not see – yet. It might feel nightmarish to confront this darkness. We back away. Yet at the same time we are faced with the task of going through anyhow. These are now moments that contain what we fear or do not want, the spooks in the nightmares that knock on our psyche and want our attention. These jolt us out of numbness and lack of reaction. They catapult us into life. We need the shocks to become awake to the time we have that is the now.
Reminds me of walking the mud on Mt. Kilimanjaro. This was a physical nigredo, the dark of the earth while traversed in actuality but also within the psyche. It seemed impossible. This was a going down, sliding in the mud, not able to find a footing, unsteady and yet having to negotiate all the unease, unsteady and unsupported except by an inner something that would guide down the path. This can parallel the time of aging for some women, the unsteady, uneven sometimes on our feet, the plowing through step by slow step as the only way to do it, no rushing, feeling each moment and having the pleasure or the forced necessity of being so present that otherwise our footing is lost.
We are no longer run by something, as and if we are present to it. We can identify through the being conscious of the now. What a relief to be in the moment that clarifies the needs of psyche and soul.
Do you appreciate the now?
A Blessed Easter to you all, and Chag Sameach for Pesach. There are many connections between the two – may your connections to this time deepen and strengthen you.
The Moon stays bright
when it doesn’t avoid the night
What other force is there greater than the one who pulls the oceans from shore to shore?
Does the Moon have anything to do with Aging & Becoming?
The moon has a natural rhythm in her cycles, and aging is one of the cycles.
She is always in motion, ever metamorphosing, dancing to her own tune, her own cycle. She is so unlike the sun which is constant and on which we rely for its regularity. Not so the moon on whose mystery we cannot always depend. Nor is it easy to grasp the power of the moon and it’s influence over us. The moon’s principle is change and ‘change’ is also an inner principle of women. It’s a very different one to men whose inner principle is primarily Logos.
When she is new, she is hardly a sliver, barely to be seen – a fine, fine crescent of light. When she is full, she is a mandala, a huge orb looking down on us from the night sky.
She increases and decreases -
She appears at night-time, dark time, goodnight time and, like our lives, undergoes the motions of waxing and waning and waxing again. Past, present, future; beginning, middle, end; death, re-birth, eternity, back to star dust from whence we came.
Now, as we age, we are more mindful of the night, represented by the moon and her feminine energy. She casts her diffuse and mysterious light upon us. She calls quietly, whispering about the cycles of change. She asks us to remember that we know that our lives have been experienced as cycles of change. She says remember me – I change as you do -
Sometimes night clouds obscure her and it takes a long while for her to re-emerge from behind them, if at all. I want to breath a dragon breath and blow those clouds away – but I also like to think of her as hiding, withdrawing. I feel at home in her concealment.
She says, yes, there is ebb and flow, in me and in you. I am sometimes dark, sometimes at half phase or quarter phase or in between those phases, sometimes in decline, sometimes round, sometimes invisible. In my complex rhythm I remain faithful to my nature. I remain vigilant even in my eternal solitude.
She says yes, man has landed on me, but you have much further to go, go within, the longest and deepest journey and seek the mystery that is you.
What better time than now, as we age, to look to the moon that becomes eclipsed and the evening that becomes morning again. We may see a harvest moon that represents our own life harvest. We can unravel the shadow pieces of our lives, those lying on the dark side of the moon and bring them into the open.
Use the magic of the inward flowing energy and become more of who we are …
Does the moon have any meaning to you?
L – LOVE & LOSS
When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.
It is interesting to put love and loss together, as if the time of aging means love and loss coinciding. In fact, they often are associated together. Love and loss. Loss of self, partner, friends, health, body, energy, hair, time, life force, position and status, confidence and on it goes. Endless loss and lack and emptiness and no replacement. Nothing is the same as before. In fact, we delude ourselves thinking the befores are endlessly resumed. ‘Before’ remains just that and we move into something else repeatedly. If we search for the scenarios of befores we only find an abyss of darkness, loss and sorrow.
Yet, loss can feel so huge that it hurts to breathe. Maybe we are so pained we become numb, without even knowing it. Love and loss can leads to us going to sleep in a glass coffin. We look present but are not. To those who get it, we are like the sleeping dead. To those who do not get it, well, they will not understand. The losses of this time of life are irreplaceable. We cannot make up for a partner or friend or job or so many minutes of our lives. We do not just get over it. All losses are impactful, but these are more so. Like we cannot inhale anymore. The emptiness is so profound. Life is forever an alteration and shaped by emptiness. A partner gone, old friends no more, children and parents dead, relationships ended through divorce, divergence of interests and lack of a common thread.
A woman’s husband died only a year ago and the loss continues, each moment another feeling of lack and shadowed by sorrow. There is no reason, life feels empty, her muse is gone. Empty mind, no thought or feeling. The space of where he was sits off to the side or even is in the forefront, always. The flowers she got for his graveside are covered with her tears. She sorrows the love gone – even more due to their rocky relationship and previous separations occurring several times. The best and closest years were the last few ones, drawn closer through illness, and now he is not there. She is also not there as her memory for living is numbed. It is not dementia. It is emotional loss that deadens from within. She goes on but like a zombie and does not even see the severity of this state. The numbness has penetrated her inner being. Stymied her.
Yet, even with this despair around loss, rebirth will occur, like the seasons and cycles of everything in nature. From the dead arise the flowering of spring. We are nature. One part of life balances upon another. Eventually we smile, when we never thought we would; or eat when formerly food had no taste; or we move when our limbs were leaden; or we create when there was nothing. But, when subsumed by loss, there is nothing.
Again, age means resilience to the huge swings and the emotional adjustments to the paradoxes that get wider and wider as we age. The lengths to which we traverse the emotional, physical and psychological stages of life are huge. The process requires fortitude. Maybe now we can face it because we have enough age. We have lived long enough as we awkwardly and stiltingly face the demands of the flux between love and loss.
Does loss of youth seem profound to you?
K – KNOWLEDGE
I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all the extraneous delights should be withdrawn
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Older women, having amassed experience, have the keys to something. We know and yet who asks. Why the blank space around her? Are we merely a bypass to be avoided and not considered? Do we reveal what we know, asked or not? If knowledge sets us free, then older women might be more considered and consulted, their lives an example. And, we might consider that they have something to offer.
The type of knowledge we are addressing relates to the sources swinging on the underbelly of life. In some tales this is a character called Baba Yaga. In some stories she lives in a hut on the edge of the forest, denoting that she can negotiate the conscious and unconscious. The young princess often has to consult her and get directions about how to proceed on her journey. Youth does not know without the guidance of this older woman. There are such amazing tales depicting the various directions given by the older woman that the younger has to follow for making it through. In each one the younger must consult, listen to and trust the older. For the younger, the tasks she has to accomplish seem hopeless, daunting, the unknown too much to handle. The Baba Yaga figure, the old witch, is the one who knows. She has gone through life and can survive. With confidence and firmness she guides the younger so she will not waver but will achieve what she must.
The witch or the sorceress, an older woman is imbued with the knowledge of potions. She knows how to heal and she lives on an edge that is not part of the community. The witch is special and on her own. She carries mystique and a feeling of the unusual. She is of the world but not bound by it. She can traverse boundaries, she has a place of distinction on the edge, yet can be feared because of this. Her life is not like that of others. Why should it be? She knows what others do not and she passes it on to those who listen and obey. In many fairy tales the princess has to negotiate the witch and make peace with her. This means following her orders that seem obtuse or impossible. It means trusting in that which is unknown and which seem to make no sense. There is no orderly plan. The witch has mystical knowledge, without logical reason but knowledge in what is unseen and that belongs to the unusual.
In our modern day this also entails listening to dreams and following their wisdom. This is a wisdom that addresses the essence of what it is to be a person. It is the ability to untie the conscious and unconscious from reaching into the well of life and drawing forth the waters for sustenance. This knowing means honoring the wisdom emanating from the older woman to anyone conscious enough to enquire.
Do you respect the knowledge gained through your own aging?
J – JOURNEY
Rilke: The only journey is the one within -
Aging is yet another journey we step into. It is always changing, and it changes us.
We’re all pilgrims as we travel and experience peaks and valleys on our journeys. The path is never straight; it changes constantly sending us in new directions, sometimes unplanned and unpredictable. The journey often brings us to crossroads and we may be uncertain whether to go left, right or straight ahead and we wonder where our steps taken consciously or otherwise have led us or will still, yet to go ..
We’ve already made many steps; we’ve crossed bridges, swum in turbulent waters and come up gasping; some steps have been halting, some made with confidence. We’ve achieved much and have left footprints in the sand as we journey on – and we lose something as we go further into this journey called ‘life’. We lose friends, partners, we say farewell to youth -
How often we hear the saying: it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey – There is truth in this phrase, but to turn it around a bit, can we say that the journey IS the destination – unknown though it may be?
There are other discoveries we make as we journey into aging. Is this a question that needs asking? I like that the word ‘question’ contains ‘quest’ within it …
Do we have a quest for something more even as we age or approach old age? Even if we answer ‘I don’t know’ this in itself opens up possibilities. Aging is a journey of discovery – found within as we find out perhaps for the first time, what we need, what is important to us in the scheme of things, what gives succour to our soul.
We may be able to describe the scent of a rose to someone else, but there is nothing comparable to actually smelling it yourself. Similarly, we make our own map, weaving the tapestry of our labyrinthine lives. The course may change, and we change as we discover inner depths of which we were previously unaware. We may journey through darkness in search of our own truth and this journey takes us to where we’ve never been before.
It reminds me of tackling a jigsaw puzzle, fitting all the pieces together to make a whole. A large one say 1500 small pieces, takes forever, and is full of frustrations trying to get them to fit. And once complete, there is another jigsaw puzzle …
The sun and moon journey daily and nightly – so too we journey as we age and become more of who we are as we journey into our own presence.
Do you ever give any thought to being on a journey?
I – IMAGE
Once we give up searching for approval we often find it easier to
Aging and life itself require attention and the flow directed inwards. The interior life, the value of the inside of being, the ability to muster reflection upon what has happened and is happening. The intellect, intensity and the use of our initiative to be inventive, intense, intriguing and intuitive. These are all parts of creativity and valuable parts of being a woman. There are many ways we can make sense of what has been and prepare for what will be. Yet, we might not take advantage of them, or tailor them to what fits or slough them off as too complicated, too simple, too much trouble or difficult. We excuse ourselves with doing rather than being and the outer world supports this. We need now to amass the courage to confront the images, illusions, delusions and the issues of being through the stages of aging.
The issues of aging impress themselves upon us. They press us with inner movement to gain attention. The energy for this arises from the unconscious spaces. We are charged to make sense of it, even ethically and morally to honor the interior, the introvert, the private self and in this way, to make statements about our individuality, specialness, unique being from the inside out.
Can you imagine being 20 and looking in the mirror to see yourself at 60? It is an experience of life smashing into an image you cannot really hold. You cannot imagine how you will look or how you will feel. To yourself and to others. You cannot know what will evolve through all those years, nor that the image of yourself will undergo many iterations. We image ourselves as we are and how we want to be but what actually happens, we cannot do it.
The following is a story of image a friend recounted. She was at a fair and an artist said she would draw her picture for free if she could use the image to sell her work. The woman agreed. Several weeks later in the post came a package. In it was a note of something to the effect that this was a likeness, not an exact image. The likeness had aged my friend many years into the eighties. Astonishment, dismay, unlovely and then the contemplation of what if this was a true image. Why is it not considered beautiful? What is wrong with the wrinkles writing their years on her face. What if this was the truth and why not?
We live insular lives, even more now with the fantasy of global connectedness through social media and computers. The reality is also that we are ensconced in our separate worlds, divided, unapproachable and hardly intimate. The sorrow is that Western cultures tend to denigrate age. It becomes reduced to being fear driven through attitudes of indifference and ignorance about appreciating the full life cycle.
We are charged to create more complete images of aging.
Is the image of yourself now as you imagined it would be?
I try to brush the hairs flat with my hand and freeze at the sight of my old hand on my old head. I lean close and open my eyes very wide, trying to see beyond the sagging flesh. It’s no good. Even when I look straight into the milky blue eyes, I can’t find myself anymore. When did I stop being me?
Sarah Gruen *
Hair is very much part of who we are – we pay attention to our hair throughout our lives managing it, shaping it, styling it, colouring it, cutting it, letting it grow – whatever we do, we like it when our hair is robust and healthy and does what we wish it do, using the talents of salons or ourselves to beautify us in some way as an expression of who we are, towards ourselves and to others – or as many are, remain au naturel and revel in the beauty of that.
As we age, we may experience the diminishment of hair. Or our hair ‘lets us down’ in that it is not as robust as before. And then one day our hair is lackluster, less than before. It becomes thinner. Are the changes in our hair a sign of aging? And if it is, it is a loss, a mysterious marking of time..
Our hair – or lack of it – all over our body, can mark the endless marching of time. The places not discussed, a language unopened, one that we privately sorrow and lose quietly. We say nothing but there it is. Our hair is no longer what it was – and we may wonder about ever letting our hair down again as we did in our youth, as we age.
If this sounds bleak, it’s because it is bleak. But like any loss there may be gain. It forces us to face ourselves when we experience these kinds of changes. It brings a different kind of focus as we accept the inevitability of diminishment of hair. We come to a lesson in acceptance of aging even as we re-shape, cover, add to our hair and remain conscious of the whys and wherefores.
Could this be a good time, especially in front of the mirror as we re-shape or brush or comb, or use our hair to disguise something on our faces, to be in a reverie about ourselves, and wonder who we may yet become? Can we really look at ourselves in the mirror eye-ball to eye-ball, taking in our hair, our wrinkles, our roots? And be in that moment of now – this is me.
A hair divides what is true and false: Omar Khayyam
Embrace your grief. For there your soul will grow
Grief circulates. Overwhelmed, we lose weight, we dream of the partner who died, we want and long for a former life, we stop, or we cover it all. The glow is gone. Grief levels us, we cannot focus, we’re without goals, unsure where to put our time, desire is dried up. The ground seems littered with decimation and we are just plain drained. And the question comes up regarding how we parse grief, manage it, be in tune with it. Grief is so often associated with aging and looped into the losses that seem to mount ever higher as we age.
Grief registers in loss of hair color, or shape of body or more globally just feeling invisible and no longer needed. It circulates in loss of positions, opportunities and challenges. Is part of grief about losing something we never had and could never have and perhaps were not supposed to have? Is not the path we have taken, the right one? Or, should we deny our own value by saying it might have been other or different?
Because it has to do with an emotional reaction to the past, present and future, grief has huge impact. Grief can cause us to re-evaluate where we are spending our time, the quality of relationships and what we need for our soul to flourish. Yet many people stay just to stay, for example, in partnerships. By doing this they avoid an anticipated grief and loss of one type only to be swallowed by grief of another type. In the process, they may be circumventing their own growth. Fear wins out or despair or grief in the present may seem better than anticipated aloneness . But what happens when we are pushed to the edge? Is it possible that really experiencing grief leads us deeper into our self? Grief occurs and our soul is in the line of being crushed. The pain of it can be so intense that it strips us of all pretense and makes us descend into who we are.
For instance, a friend is now faced with the shreds of a relationship she feared to leave. The grief she accepted finally became too much. It loaded her down. She felt the weight of its burden and, after so many years of being together, she was questioning it all. Now in their 60’s and 70’s do they belong together? Grief and emotional loss pervades her life. An abortion, moves, loss of degrees, jobs, covering for him, denying her needs. Could the painful rough edges ever smooth? Can their mutual grief, disappointments and losses repair? They could try but both would have to feel the grief of what should/may have been and what needs to change. It is unclear if they could, would or should do so.
Grief brings up all that was undone, unsatisfied and unacknowledged, but it also reminds of all that was, the riches, the tapestry of our lives, how much was filled into the cloth. And, then of course we see the patches that remain and the pieces hanging in tatters. All this is natural. Grief reminds us about the earth of our being. It makes us weep into the heart of what it is to be, to have lost and to see the path not taken, or not even see it.
Grief is also strangely fitting with gratitude. Without loss would we know what we have? How perverse yet true. And how difficult it is to remain in the space of gratitude. This keeps us in the present moment and feeling the pains and beauties of that moment. Maybe aging, and because time seems vanished, puts us into these moments so that we feel more completely and value differently. This can be part of the gold of these older years.
How do you grieve the passing of time?
And the day came
when the risk to remain tight in a bud
became more painful
than the risk it took to blossom
Is there any value in fear? Or is it paralyzing?
Do we fear Aging? I suppose we never give too much thought to it when we are younger.
Suddenly we are 50 or 60 or 70 or 80 or approaching our 90’s – even older maybe.
It can be overwhelming to us to have ‘aging’ in our sights, and even threatening.
We may have witnessed parents, siblings, and friends aging before our eyes. We note incapacitation in ourselves or friends and colleagues, from tripping over an insignificant blade of grass – and the struggle to retain equilibrium thereafter.
We wonder about our seeming inability to concentrate and complete tasks – time just runs away, ever faster as we try to catch our tail doing tasks that have no real satisfying meaning. For me, I am fearful of that.
Surprisingly, there is value in fear.
Whatever uneasy or anxious making or fearful feeling we may have, can be the actual spur that shakes us out of our languor or torpor about aging – or anything else for that matter.
Fear brings us up short – yet can serve to focus.
It is not easy sitting with fearful feelings. Yet, sitting and being in that fearful place and going into it may bring another kind of awareness to bear. It is like a meditation sitting with the fear and, taking time and being in the present time is conscious experiencing in the moment. Something else may emerge, by virtue of sitting with fear and not jumping away from it, trying to escape it.
Fear can be a mobilizing or motivating influence in that it forces us to re-member what we want and need. Being aware of fear gives a pause, a place to consider the destruction against us.
Can we use these fears as a way to remind ourselves that we have too often lived our lives being waylaid, or have forbidden in some way our true natures to come forth? Have we forgotten?
Are we fearful of living?
Can we confront our fears no matter how awful they are? Can we sit in the midst of them, being in the moment of them, knowing that we are fertile no matter our age, and use that fear promoting fullness?
Are you fearful of ‘aging’?
The Cave that you fear to enter, holds the treasure you seek. Joseph Campbell
Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Some days it is just too too much to amass energy. The day stretches with emptiness and existence is heavy, laden with too much effort to even tackle the smallest things, ennui, inertia. Exhausted from seemingly nothing. Too many extenuating events eclipse. Why trudge on? Fatigue and exhaustion, the losses and disappointments of life pile up. There is a feeling of wanting to escape into when time seemed carefree, when there was desire and the engine of living held promise and hope.
These emotions create energy drains. They can also foster a holding place for energy–holding the lost dreams and the desires that lie in the soul. These emotions are the ones that also give energy back. The paradox is that the more we drag ourselves through the muck of the tiredness and the daily grind, the more we amass the energy for movement.
This is why a question in aging is energy. It can compromise us, it can help us, it can be our way through to find more – or less – about life.
Along with energy comes enthusiasm. To live fully we need all these e words. And, we can add essential and essence as in revealing the core of our being.
These are the days when there is the expectation/anticipation of something exceptional, even in its smallness and insignificance. The enjoyment of life shines through. Expression of self flows out to embrace the moments. The emotions and emotional reactions are extant. Our sparks go out to others and the energy ignites.
Energy is for planting the garden, thinking, caring and for loving. It is the spark that keeps us involved and activated. It is part of passion. Energy gives us direction. It has a physical expression but is very much driven emotionally. We find we have more energy when we are filled with deep emotion. This activates us inter alia to care about saving the rhinoceros, preserving the water, and helping the less fortunate.
As we age we can use our energy to write a life script expanded from the one we’ve formerly subscribed to. We know our inclinations; we know that sometimes they do not serve us well. By using our energy we can traverse other roads less travelled, whether a new interest or inclination, by listening to the voice within. It comes to have an even more imperative sound, calling us to live fuller, in a more integrated and healthier, honest way. There is no time for indifference any more. No time for outer influences holding sway.
Time to use our energy as we wish.
Do you use your energy for self-examination?
D – DEATH
‘I touch you knowing we weren’t born tomorrow,
And somehow, each of us will help the other live, and somewhere, each of us must help the other die.’
* Adrienne Rich
Death, like money, sex, bad breath is not a particularly comfortable topic of conversation. It’s depressing in the conventional sense of the word. There is something ominous about it and its finality. It has a sense of taboo and is consequently repressed. We deny death.
But perhaps it is no bad thing to allow some ‘depress’ and depth as we briefly delve into this reality and bring it out of its darkness.
There are depths in the soul that come to the fore as one is aging or dying, un-influenced by the ego. There are forgotten archetypal myths, or images, that are re-assuring to us.
They’re at least a 1000 questions about death, maybe 10,000. Maybe 7.2 billion – as many questions as there are individuals on this planet as we journey, destination unknown -
Are we ever prepared for death? We need to go ‘down’ while living in order to prepare. Thinking of death brings a focus to one’s life.
What of the nights and dreamtime? Dreams prepare the aging individual for death as we pay attention to them. They help our personal myth and image to emerge; they enlarge our quality of life.
This ‘witness to death’ makes us go down deeper and wonder about own death whenever and however it may be.
I sometimes fantasise and wonder about my ‘reaction’ and ‘being’ were I to be given a grave diagnosis. Would I go the traditional medical route? Would I seek alternative ways of healing? Would I run away and hide and not tell anyone? Would I rant and rave at that dreadful thief, the Grim Reaper? Would I reach out and be ‘secure’ in the person or persons to whom I turn? Would I spend time dusting the cobwebs in my mind, heart and soul as I live out my last days?
How can I know how I will be until it happens? But pondering death makes me look at my life as it is now, and yet becoming -
Do you ever wonder about death?
*Adrienne Rich; (1929-2012) Twenty One Love Poems