Life , as we know is a journey. Each decade becomes a voyage we embark on, usually without our conscious knowledge, to fulfil a specific and sacred purpose. Today is my 64th birthday, offering me the perfect opportunity to look back on ages past and reflect on the sacred purpose of becoming an elder.
Lies! So many lies circulate in modern western society about aging. Number one is that age must mean loss. Loss of respect, role and even visibility, particularly for women. The second largely unchallenged lie is that aging walks hand in hand with increased illness. I was far less healthy in my twenties thatn I currently am because, well, I had no idea how my body worked, nor of the powerful body, mind, spirit connection.Aging gets such a negative rap that in our often superficial world that we forget there is another side to it, a sacred purpose. So on my birthday I now declare and promote to the world the joyous aspects of getting older.One of the main reasons why I love Astrology-no not that stereotypical sun sign mush you read in the paper-is the template it provides for the sacred purpose of each stage of life. For example the first Saturn return which occurs between the ages of twenty eight and thirty, is the time of true adultholod when a person makes decisions about what life responsibilities they will accept. The second Saturn return is a time of deciding what responsibilities they will dispense with as they enter the later decades of life.This is a time of the Crone, the wise older goddess who, as an act of compassion, cuts away those things, beliefs, behaviours, roles and people which are no longer healthy for our new life.
“I just don’t give a damn” . Top of my list of appreciating getting older is a total lack of concern with how others see me. Let the checkout chicks judge me as inclining towards dementia when they see my white hair and lack of instant response to their quick-fire and often incomprehensible questions when paying for shopping. A few years ago I put a rinse in my hair for a short time and got a very different response to my commercial transactions.I happily allow others to judge, stereotype, dismiss or ignore me based on my elder looks. Its what I think of myself that matters.
Aging brings the freedom to let go of role expectations based on social mores.Women of my age and older can now forge a unique life for themselves based on their authentic selves. When my mother turned fifty, she stopped caring about herself and caved in to society’s need to have her invisible, wearing dowdy dresses and clothes. “Mutton dressed as Lamb” was a harrowing and powerful taboo that stopped women of the time from creating a style and life on their own terms.
In my twenties I used to worry about “getting it right”. That is, looking the part. I hadn’t a clue about life and gave my power away to magazines and newspapers to tell me how I should live . Now I know that the only right way is the one that my inner voice tells me is right for me. The inner voice is actually an expression of self trust. Do we actually believe that we are wise and know what is best for us?
In my childhood, I lived in a tight knit if not clannish Irish Catholic community. We simply didn’t know any
people of different faiths-I’m talking about Protestantism here not something as exotic as Islam or Judaism. So now I’m happy to follow that inner voice and I have no desire to convert or convince others of my “rightness” . I hope they listen to their inner voice and follow the path that’s right for them. In this elder stage I also have the confidence to be with others who are different to me without either myself or the other person having to change.
Society likes to put us in our place. We are this or that, usually based on what we do. I now have the freedom and creativity to be beyond a prescribed career or role in society. I am lots of things and have many interests.
It wasn’t until my late forties that I started to know who I really was, body mind and soul.I’d been living according to how others thought I should live. In my early fifties I was shaken awake by a phoenix like experience in which I experienced great loss but this lead me on the path to authenticity, to becoming conscious of who I really am. I learnt that life is short so better squeeze the juice from each day and risk the inevitable chaos and mess of life.
I think getting older gets a bad press because it involves facing our mortality. Contrary to this fear, aging can bring you closer to the essence of life. When you realise that life is finite and none of us know when ours will end; when you wake up to the fact that no-one else has the power to give you a good life but yourself then you have stumbled on the pearl of great wisdom and this is a key part of the sacred journey of aging.
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