a few years ago a friend recommended a book to me. it sounded interesting, but not essential at the time. i no longer remember what caused the title to come to me again . when it did, my life moved to another place, another level of awareness. i'm now reading from age-ing to sage-ing the second time around. it was published in 1995, and more relevant now than twenty-three years ago. it's authors, zalman schachter-shalomi and ronald s. miller, put forward a radical view of ageing. it is this view of ageing that inspires me to move beyond what society tells me is true about ageing.
instead the authors encourage me to elder.
"...when i refer to someone as eldering, the "ing" of the word refers to a state of growth and evolution, an active responsiblity for our destiny in old age, living by conscious chouce rather than social expectation."
i am then reminded that i have a choice in each moment to be an elder.
they go on to say,
"we are not always elders; sometimes we are aging, crotchety,somewhat elderly people. but at any moment in the battle between the forces of aging and eldering,we can become conscious, snap out of the hypnotic trance induced by society and our own inertia, and do the inner work of eldering."
yes, sometimes i am crotchety and querulous, filled with frustration at the changes that ageing brings with it. and then i remember i can snap out of it. i can live in a different place, both inside myself and in the world. i can use the eldering skills of contemplateion, harvesting my life, preparing the legacy that i will leave those who live longer than i will and i can prepare for dying and death.
these are the tasks of eldering, the processes that bring joy and meaning to the process of ageing. as schachter-shalomi and miller remind me...
"it's the difference between seeking safety and comfort, on the one hand, and reducing the ego and opening to the Spirit, on the other."
the choice is challenging, as all spiritual work is. the choice in rewarding, as all spiritual work is. and the choice is made, moment to moment, breath to breath, as all spiritual work is.
this is the choice to stand in our power as elders.