These are very brief extracts from Susan Schwartz’s and my recently published book ‘Aging & Becoming ~A Reflective Enquiry’. Susan E. Schwartz is identified as SES and I’m not adding anything this time round. This is from the chapter Waiting.
It’s a public holiday here in South Africa – Freedom Day, the day on which 23 years ago, Mr. Nelson Mandela was the first democratically elected president. We waited so long for this – and we’re still waiting for democracy in its best form to manifest.
SES: Waiting as part of life brings to mind an entire day spent in the African bush… waiting for the wild dog pups to appear. …Did we ever see those pups even though we were there for hours? No. But the point seemed to be that we were there. We felt the rawness of existence; how the animal lives in the bush, waiting, lurking, looking. We might have missed all that unless we slowed down, been observant, patient, expectant. Gradually, just waiting subsumed the goal. The present moment was entirely full. How often do we take the time to wait? pg. 130
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
V – Vision
These are very short excerpts from Susan E. Schwartz’s and my recently published book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. Susan E. Schwartz is identified as SES and Susan Scott (me) as SS and italicised. This is from the chapter Vision & Value.
SES: It is possible to have a vision that regards each day as a small but significant unfolding, like the various plants growing in the garden. We plant them when small and now they are older and have taken another shape, maybe gnarly, maybe vibrant with bloom, sometimes needing pruning. We tend to them on a regular basis. Our system, like a garden, needs care to remain vibrant and full rather than sickly or unkempt. pg 123
SS: What has been my version of life up until now? What will help me come into a fuller expression of myself? Will I have to go into the void, or the cave or dungeon, or enter a dense forest? Is this the way to find the treasure? Do I need armor? What awaits? Do I have the capacity for being vulnerable towards myself and others? Can I permit the breaking down of my previous attitudes and attachments? Is it time to show up if I haven’t already? pg 124
The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.
These are very brief extracts from Susan Schwartz’s and my recently published book “Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry”. Susan E. Schwartz is identified as SES and Susan Scott as SS and italicised. Chapter:Ultimatum & Unconsciousness.
SES: Aging is an ultimatum. Obviously. Time calls. The unconscious calls us to attend to the unfinished and the undone. If our focus insists on only moving forward, we might resist the slow and steady and undermine the world of the present that lies in front of us. We become lopsided, a one-sided emphasis that looks to speed rather than thoroughness and the slow building. pg 118
Joan D. Vinge
Throughout the ages, stories with basic themes have recurred over and over, in widely disparate cultures, emerging from the goddess Venus from the sea of of our unconscious.
These are very short excerpts from Susan Schwartz’s and my recently published book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. Susan Schwartz is identified as SS, Susan Scott as SS and italicised. This is from the chapter Time & Trust.
SES: Time can be hard. Is it because time slides into shorter and shorter quantities? Each day holds the same amount of minutes but they fly away. Where do they go? Have I done enough? Said enough? Felt enough? Been conscious enough? Kind enough? Do I treat my body as a temple or do I treat it as a car to be merely filled with gasoline and then go on? Do I trust in life? pg 114
SS: A time comes when remaining where we are, if stuck, is self-limiting and restricting. Maybe there is much to un-become as prerequisite for becoming, as we unlearn that which is detrimental to our wholeness. pg 115
My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue,
An everlasting vision of the ever changing view
Marian Beaman commented on a previous post on R and with her permission I’m adding her words:
‘When I read these words, I am reminded of the underside of a tapestry: full of knots and mere hints of a design. Our lives as we live them are rather like that, lacking sense until we can see the big picture, perhaps near the end of life or in eternity’.
S – Soul
These are very short extracts from Susan Schwartz’s and my recently co-authored published book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. Susan Schwartz is identified as SES; I, Susan Scott, as SS and italicised. This is from the chapter Soul & Sorrow.
SS: I recognize that the journey always has a dark side. There is a dreaded sense of the unknown. I feel my soul sometimes with me but many times absent; and I fear too that maybe the soil of my soul may be too dry, too thin, too arid, too wasted, lacking in essential nutrients. An ongoing existential crisis for me – pg 110
SES: Aging is a separation from what was. Endings bring loss as well as satisfaction. Endings also imply beginnings.pg 111 …. The self …defines how we best express and most fully struggle to be known and to know others. The self holds the conscious and unconscious worlds together. pg 112
Sadness is the matrix from which wit and irony spring;
Sadness is uncomfortable and creative,
which is why consumer society cannot tolerate it.
R – Reflection
These are very short extracts from Dr. Susan E. Schwartz’s and my recently published book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. Susan E. Schwartz is identified as SES and I am SS, in italics. From ‘Reflection & Renewal’.
SES: We refresh our relationships, till their soil, make happen what we formerly gave up and repressed. The regrets remind us. The old is the fertilzer that nourishes and rewards and brings renewal to fill in the present. pg. 106
SS: We may rue the choices we made in our lives …. all those steps we’ve taken, the threads, the barely discernible pattern, have brought us to where we are, now – an older time, one that has its own wisdom and beauty. And, the rewards are not inconsiderable. pg. 107
She wants to live for once. But doesn’t quite know what that means. Wonders if she has ever done it. If she ever will.
Q – QUEST
These are very short extracts from Susan E. Schwartz and my recently released book “Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry”. Susan E. Schwartz is represented as SES, my words as SS – italicised. From chapter ‘Quest’.
SS:The quest in life is being aware of the questions – about who we are, our place in the mystery of life as we experience it. We can ask the questions, stir things up a bit as it will surely do. They can serve as a stepping stone; we can welcome whatever arises as we would a guest, coming newly into our home. Can I live the questions I ask myself? The only foolish question is the one not asked. pg 103
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.
P – Path
These are very short extracts from Susan E. Schwartz and my recently released book “Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry”. Susan E. Schwartz is represented as SES, my words as SS – italicised. From ‘Path & Pain’.
SS: We plan as best we can though the unplanned actually happens more often than we care for. Death of loved ones floors us. Receiving a diagnosis of a grave illness knocks the wind out of our sails. Or being in a terrible car accident, or losing one’s job or finding out that one’s partner cheated on us, or a still birth, even metaphorically. Unplanned, unwelcome. We become more aware and consciously anticipate the unexpected. pg 98
SES: This journey has twists and turns and each day and each moment we select this one and not that. We are held and expanded at the same time. One moment we are private, passive, personal and protected and then public and seen. One is often integral to the other. The path has and will alter as we prefer this to that. In fact, we are what we have chosen from the past as it emerges into the present. The path defines us as much as we do it. pg 100
The truth will set you free but first it will piss you off.
O – Obstacles
These are very short extracts from Susan E. Schwartz and my recently released book “Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry”. Susan E. Schwartz is represented as SES, my words as SS – italicised. From ‘Other & Obstacles’.
SS: And of course, the greatest obstacle to overcome is often the one we’ve put upon ourselves. We could ask in quiet times, what is preventing me from living a larger and more loving life? In what way am I not living in what remains of my life, as authentically as possible? In what way do I collude in oppressing my own self? Especially as we know that time is no longer infinite as we thought it was.
Is the obstacle sometimes the path? pg 95
SES: Have you heard of the word omphalos? It is often used in Jungian psychology and describes the arc of life. It symbolizes the center or hub of something, a rounded stone, and the navel of the earth from ancient Greek mythology. The definition implies drawing the circle of life around oneself, and being aware of what emerges from the center. It is an opening to the origins and indicates an obedience to who one really is, a true center and centering. pg 96
‘What are the obstacles the prevent me from living my larger life?’
N – Naming
These are very short extracts from Susan E. Schwartz and my recently released book “Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry”. Susan E. Schwartz is represented as SES, my words as SS – italicised. From chapter ‘Now & Naming’.
SS: We need to name our hurt, anger, grief, failed relationships or failed purposes and not allow ourselves to be swallowed into some undifferentiated malaise, sadness or hopelessness. ... This is awful but the experience of it needs to be named even though the words be hard to articulate. Naming gives the reality shape and form and can free us from earlier constrictions. … Though … naming can too often be representational and objectifying. We sometimes name dream images too quickly and restrict its expansion into something larger. pg 91
SES: Part of aging is naming the problems, finding the unknown strengths. Naming gives agency. We are no longer run by something too amorphous or frightening when we name and become conscious of it. What a relief to name and how it clarifies the needs of the psyche and soul. pg 92
Nothing feeds the centre so much as creative work, even humble kinds like cooking and sewing.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
M – Moon
These are very short extracts from Susan E. Schwartz and my recently released book “Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry”. Susan E. Schwartz is represented as SES, my words as SS – italicised. From the chapter: Moon, Mourning & Mystery.
SS: We could look to the moon when it is waxing or waning and know that we also experience those cycles of dark and light, fullness and emptiness, brightness and dimness, visibility and visibility. pg 85
SES: The moon has been associated with the feminine. Like the moon, our older time of life includes its waning side as it moves towards the darkness and the end of the moonlight. More than other planets it influences the earth through the tides, women’s periods, weather, moods. Its force is diffuse, less direct, less definite. May be part of the enchantment with the moon is that we can easily project onto it. pg.85
Yes, in the obscured sky a moon does float, newly, a wishing moon, a sliver of ancient rock, a goddess, a wink.
L : Loss
These are very short extracts from Susan E. Schwartz’s and my recently released book “Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry”. Susan E. Schwartz is represented as SES, mine as SS – italicised. From chapter ‘Love, Loss & Belonging’.SES: 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 another. Eventually a smile, when we thought we never would or eat when food had no taste or we move when our limbs are leaden or we create when there was nothing. When we are subsumed by loss there is nothing. Yet, love does return. pg 81
SS: How well you say about love and loss belonging together. The loss must be the harder to bear the more one has loved. How hard is the journey we face. Or is the loss harder when there has not been enough love and now the chance is really gone? pg 82.
There is time for work. And time for love. There is no other time.
K – Keys
These are very short extracts from Susan E Schwartz’s and my recently released book “Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry”. Susan E. Schwartz is represented as SES, mine as SS – italicised. From chapter ‘Knowledge & Keys’.
SS: Growing older is a step into the unknown. We’ve witnessed women growing older and are sometimes in awe of their ongoing achievements and aliveness; but too often we see women who do not enjoy or appreciate life much due to illness, infirmity, loneliness, sadness, economic misfortune. Or we see women resigned in an unhealthy way towards their aging. Denial seems to be the name of the game. But the key to us is there when the knock is heard and now is the time to hear it. pg.77
SES: There are many types of knowledge, including those that lie on the underbelly of life. For instance, in some fairy tales the older woman is called Baba Yaga, a mysterious one, often a witch who resides on the edge of the forest. Her place there denotes that she can negotiate both conscious and unconscious realms. The young girl in the story has to consult her and get directions for her journey. It means following orders that seem obtuse or impossible. It means trusting in that which is unknown and makes no sense. The Baba Yaga figure, the elder, is the one who has knowledge, confidence and firmness in guiding the younger so she will accomplish what she must. pg. 77
We do not want our world to perish. But in our quest for knowledge, century by century, we have placed all our trust in a cold, impartial intellect which only brings us nearer to destruction.
J – Joy
These are very short excerpts from Susan E. Schwartz & my recently published book “Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry”. Susan E. Schwartz is SES, I am SS – my writings are italicized. This is from the chapter ‘Joy & Journey’.
SES: Jouissance … a source of creativity and we could say that the suppression of jouissance prevents women from expressing their voices. Organizing or planning for fulfilment now, we realize that what was intriguing earlier in life, what seemed so necessary, may be no longer. Maybe our joy now resides in different aspects, more thoughtful observations and reflections, and this is also part of what defines jouissance. pg 70
SES: Remember, the journey has jogs in the road. It is not a straight path. It has ups and downs and obstacles that provide life-expanding experiences, even when they seem limiting. If not for the jog or the detour, we may not make it. Like in the fairytales, the heroine finds herself in the most unlikely circumstances. She has to get lost, leave all she knew and find another way to proceed. Being on the road of the unknown with its twists and turns is the only option. pg 70.
‘The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse’.