Marjorie Horne column

Seniors column: Aging well invites an inner conversation

Marjorie Horne discusses issues for Kelowna seniors in her weekly column

By Marjorie Horne

Having just facilitated a workshop on Shifting Into Elderhood, I am left in the days following contemplating the aspect of impermanence in my own life. This indelible fact that life is constantly changing becomes increasingly more intimate as we journey through our aging life.

Time can become frightening when we feel as though we do not have enough. We can only choose to believe that the amount of time we are given to experience life can be nothing less than exactly what we need. The transformation of our natural sense of despair and anxiety about death into an inspiration for living in the present moment is a fundamental task of aging.

John O’Donohue wrote a book entitled Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom and in it he says, “Aging is not merely about the body losing its poise, strength, and self-trust. Aging also invites you to become aware of the sacred circle that shelters your life. Within the harvest circle, you are able to gather lost moments and experiences, bring them together, and hold them as one…aging can be a time of great strength, poise, and confidence.”

This is really the aspiration of aging consciously. Staying present with the many emotions that surface as we sense that time is running out. Taking each moment and honoring its preciousness. Making a choice not to run away from the reality of impermanence. Choosing to stay present sometimes requires asking ourselves the question, “What am I running from?” Within this simple statement, a doorway is opened that often allows us to be present with loss.

Anam Cara means soul friend, a deep and integral friendship in which the intimacies of life are explored in an open, honest, and trusting manner. Is facing truth painful? Does it usually revolve around dealing with loss? I believe it does. Aging eventually touches our soul and invites an inner conversation about the more mysterious and impenetrable aspects of being alive. O’Donohue writes: “Old age can be a time of clearance. In old age, as your life calms, you will be able to make many clearances in order to see who you are, what life has done to you, and what you have made of your life… False burdens can fall away in old age.”

You may be on the beginning edge of your aging journey or well into its circle, but are you now ready to let the burdens go? Facing the impermanence of our lives, the certainty of death and our own mortality is the doorway to more fully experience the aliveness of each day. The awareness that what we choose to be as we awaken to every day is what is important. Do we choose to be kind or do we choose to be critical. Do we choose to be compassionate or do we choose to be judgemental. Do we choose to rush or do we choose to slow down and take in the beauty all around us.

Our life is the consequence of every choice that we make. Modern society has a misguided addiction to speed and acceleration. The gift of our aging life is the opportunity to let the addiction go. “In a positive sense, aging becomes a time for visiting the temple of your memory and integrating your life… Sometimes difficulty is the greatest friend of the soul,” writes John.

Aging can inspire both the clearance of false burdens and the integration of our experiences. If we will stop running and pause to really discover what we are running from, embrace it and let it be, we open to the vulnerability of our humanness. O’Donohue gives us the contemplation: “How you view your future actually shapes it… Natural wisdom seems to suggest that the way you are toward your life is the way that your life will be toward you.”

Choose openness to impermanence and to change and within your future you will find a greater sense of hope, wholeheartedness and peace.

Marjorie Horne is the founder of CareSmart Seniors Consulting and host of the Engaging in Aging Radio Show on AM1150 Sundays at 9am. 250-863-9577 or marjorie@caresmart.ca.