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.
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’.
I – Image
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. Page numbers are given. This is from the chapter: Intimacy & Image.
SES: We face a quandary about where to find vibrant images of aging that we want to emulate or follow. These do not appear in the glossies, magazine covers or the Internet chatter. Rather we can be informed from the tales of the ancestors, the myths and stories of humankind, in all forms of culture, literature and art. These can show us the paths to honor and love and are guides along our journey in the search for whom we are. And, most assuredly, the images can appear in our dreams. pg 66.
SS: I flew down to Cape Town to meet 2 very dear and old friends from when we were in our 20’s. …. We spoke of our changing attitudes and identities as we grow older, our loves and our likes, what brings us joy, our hurts and concerns, dreams fulfilled, those not, our sometimes envy of youth and their beauty. … We talked about aging as an initiation, a way of tying up loose ends and as a way of preparing for death. We are not immortal as we may have thought 40 years ago. pg 68
‘I don’t cover my face because I want to show my identity’.
H – Heart
These are very short excerpts from Susan E. Schwartz and my recently released book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. Susan E. Schwartz is SES, I am SS, Susan Scott and my writings are italicized. Page numbers are given. This is from the Chapter ”Heart & Hope.”
SS: The call of the heart is always there. We feel the plaintive ache of it when sadness and despair is a shadow accompanying our every step; we feel the effervescent joy of it in simple pleasures when we see the beauty in a sunrise, or find a pansy shell. And that familiar sense of satisfaction when imbibing a delicious cup of coffee, or reaching one’s destination after travelling and returning home, These are more precious to me now, more than before. pg 63
SES: You refer to hiding the heart, emotions and and the damage that does to our whole being. As the heart grows, we can forgive, but do not need to forget. We are able to work it out, from the heart. This might mean that the world of feelings takes precedence and we lead from the emotions. Giving, compassion and empathy may be what enlivens the older years. Continuing the heart approach would keep us vibrant. pg 64
‘‘Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart, don’t know how to laugh either”.
G – Grief
This is a short excerpt from Susan E. Schwartz and my recently released book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. Susan E Schwartz is SES, I am SS and my writings are italicised. Page numbers are given. This is from the chapter ‘Grief’.
SES: Psychologically we are made to survive grief, even the most searing; and find some meaning, some purpose for proceeding on. Grief can unite us with our deepest self and introduce to us to those aspects we did not know. Grief reduces us and makes us new at the same time as we shed an old identity and slowly put on a new garment of being. The profound nature of grief is how much it can change us. Paradoxically, perhaps this is how gratitude is formulated. pg 57.
SS: A friend of mine whose husband died after a long illness a few years ago, wrote to me that she felt she was slowly coming out of the shadows of the grief that she had felt for so long. No longer was she in the shadow of wife and caretaker and was now in the difficult process of finding herself, who she truly is. She had to forge a new identity and face the loneliness of that. She wrote about an earlier trip to the interior of her country. She wrote about the endless landscape and the few nights spent under the stars and felt the boundlessness of it all, and wondered whether there was a similar boundlessness within her. pg 59.
‘She was no longer wrestling with grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts’.
F – Fear
These are very short extracts from Susan E. Schwartz and my recently released book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. Page numbers are given. Susan E. Schwartz is SES, I am SS and italicised. This is from Chapter ‘Fear & Fulfilment’.
SS: When I am assailed by fearful feelings, I realise that they are often the spur that shakes me out of my langour and torpor. It is not easy sitting with them. Yet, by virtue of sitting and being in that fearful place, another kind of awareness may emerge creating a slight shift. And I wonder what fear actually is? Is it an absence of love? Or the opposite of love? pg 50
SES: Paradoxically, fear can promote fulfilment. It pushes re-membering what we lost, want and need. Being aware of fear gives pause, a place to consider the destruction turned against ourselves. … As older women, we might find a way through the fear, uncovering the facades of the of the false self, finally to unveil the real. pg 51
‘The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear’.
Aung san sun Kyi
These are brief extracts from Susan E Schwartz’s and my recently released book “Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry”. Susan E. Schwartz is represented as SES; I’m SS – italicised. Page numbers are given. This is from Chapter: ‘Eros & Emotion’
SES: Without Eros a relationship with life itself ends. We cannot really eliminate Eros as long as we are alive. Yet we are in a paradox and admit that aging requires energy and focus. Age cannot be without Eros. The evening of life can also be enervating. We are engaged in continual forms of ending and beginning. There can be extenuating circumstances that narrow the playing field and cause us, and should cause us, to evaluate where, and how to focus our energy and time. pg 44
SS: It is comforting to know that truth can emerge from error. … To err is not necessarily a sign of weakness. It may be an expression of our all too real humanness, an expression of our vulnerabilities, insecurities and doubts. pg 47.
‘Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind’.
April A-Z : D – Dreams
These are very short extracts from Susan E. Schwartz’s and my book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. SES is Susan Schwartz, SS is me, Susan Scott. My writings are italicised. Page numbers are given. This is from Chapter: ‘Dreams, Death & Depth’.
SES: The denial of aging and death can come through dreams, sometimes pointing out depression and despair. Over time, disregard of self brings disregard to and from others and damage all round. And then there is a slow but deliberate death to the psyche as the death-dealing blows arise from within. The dreams help us to break into the complex holding us hostage when we think there is no escape. pg 37.
SS: The dream reveals our own metaphor, our own myth, as a gift to one’s self. It carries great responsibility and opportunity. The rich and honest soil of the dream, unconscious and wanting some light thrown on it, requires attentive watering for its fertility to bear fruit. pg 39.
‘Our life is composed greatly from dreams, from the unconscious, and they must be brought into connection with action.They must be woven together’.
These are very short excerpts from Susan E. Schwartz and my book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. Susan E. Schwartz is identified by SES; Susan Scott by SS and italicised. This is from chapter ‘Complex, Cooking & Change’.
SES: I heard a woman speak about aging, but with disgust. Her body would go, she would not be attractive and would lose her strength, beauty and energy. It was awful to listen to this rendition about what little life held for her. Here is the complex around aging speaking. Such attitudes chip away at the sense of the self. page 27.
SS: The call for change is always present as is the capacity for change – it is not really erased with age. Capacity is there when the right attention is on self – and others. Too often we get waylaid and forget the self part. But, we can recover with persistent attention to our capacities. Having the energy to open the door might be the question if we hear the call to develop and maintain self-regard. Yet a lifetime of internalized conflict can prevent hearing and answering the inner call. page 28.
We have to dare to be ourselves,
however frightening and strange that self may prove to be.