thomas moore, in an article in "spirituality and health" magazine wrote:
“I can say from my own experience that at a certain point people will begin to treat you as an elder and look for benefits that you may be able to give them.
That is your cue to make a shift. You are no longer part of the crowd. Now you have to step up and assume a new place in your community. For you, it is yet another rite of passage, an ascension of state and transformation of you and your life to a level where you can enjoy new pleasures and feel new obligations…
That act requires character and the ability to know yourself without falling into either too high an opinion of yourself or false humility. Normally you develop this capacity for honest leadership over many years. The apprenticeship for the elder begins very young and continues over a lifetime.”
--adapted from his Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy
to become an elder is "another rite of passage". we have lived many of these passages over the years. we commonly think of them in terms of biology or social customs. many are easily recognised and validated. the passage into elderhood is unspoken, unseen and unvalued.
how would you mark this passage?
would it be a wild party, complete with champagne, when you reach one of the years that ends in '0'?
would it be a retreat to the countryside with a few select friends?
would it be a cruise to an exotic land?
would it be a sedate tea party?
would it be a ritual in sacred space?
would it be a trip down memory lane?
stepping into this new role we have new responsibilities and new pleasures (and probably a few new aches and pains). yes, it is our ageing that places the mantle of elderhood on our shoulders. what will we leave behind? what values have we embodied as examples for those that follow us? how have we lived our lives and what have we learned?
the answers to these questions form our legacy, whether we tell our tales verbally to others, or we simply shine in our wholeness in each present moment. being the full humans that we are is enough. touching the hearts of others in some way is an extra helping of goodness. this is our contribution to humanity as we grow in years.
this is the apprenticeship fulfilled that began decades ago, at a very young age, and has continued through our lifetime.