In my last column I spoke of how moving into Elderhood is a shifting of gears that guides us further into a consciousness that lives in the moment, feeling appreciative of life and who we truly are. I began my own consciousness journey as I transitioned into the middle years of my life at the age of 4o. My father was dying of cancer and I had made the decision to quit my rather stressful, prestigious job and help care for him as he came to the end of his life. Little did I realize that that decision would lead me into a spiritual awakening of sorts that would guide me to where I am right now in my life. We are all rather skeptical of magical miracles, but when faced with one in your own experience head on, there is no denying that it is happening. Becoming intimately aware that we all have a unique purpose for being here is what poet Mark Nepo describes as the exquisite risk. It is being willing to be fully alive, open, available, living true to your heart.
There are both challenges and blessings in taking the exquisite risk to become more engaged with our inner life and then extending that out to others from a place of full authenticity. It does require the willingness to step into what is perhaps the unfamiliar territory of vulnerability. It is the shedding of an old skin that aging can more urgently open us up to, because we know our time is running out. This “calling” to something more, something new, is brought more into our awareness as we move through the four steps of conscious aging as described by Lewis Richmond in his book Aging As A Spiritual Practice: The Lightning Strike; Coming To Terms; Adaptation; and Appreciation.
Please go to the Engaging in Aging Facebook page to read this column if you missed it. I have personally been working through these steps for about six years now and as with any learning, there are many layers you can experience as you go through the steps once and then revisit them again gradually as you are ready to go deeper. Engaging in aging really does begin with the internal process of coming into wholeheartedness first and then engaging in the outer world in a way that allows you to share your unique gifts with others in a way that truly matters. The exquisite risk is not easy. The very phrase implies its two-fold definition. Exquisite implies the beauty and wonder that it holds and risk defines the letting go, the stepping out of your comfort zone into waters that are unfamiliar to you. Such a beautiful metaphor for aging consciously.
Why would we want to undertake this journey? Isn’t it time to just kick back our heels and cruise through our lives to the end? I suppose this comes down to individual desire. Everything begins with becoming clear on our intention. Why am I here? What is it I desire? As I am aging I realize that there is much more to life than seeking approval, making decisions to keep myself safe and protected and trying to be perfect. The more I can let go of the past and the future and bring myself to what I am doing in the present moment, holds much more desire for me than it used to. Am I being kind, am I being loving, am I being accepting rather than judgmental, both of myself and of others. This is what is truly valuable.
I bought a book many years ago entitled The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse by Debbie Ford. It was one of those books you buy but then it somehow gets put on your book shelf and never gets read. It jumped out at me a few weeks ago and as always, the timing was perfect. It is a tool I have found very helpful to visit daily as I reflect on my life and make another shift forward into more change and development on this incredible aging journey.
So, if you may be asking yourself, ‘What’s my deepest intention. What really matters?’you may want to join me and other aspiring Elders in a one day experiential workshop entitled Shifting Into Elderhood, A Spiritual Journey on Saturday, May 27. Call me at 250-863-9577 or email email@example.com for more information. There may be more you want to do with your one wild and precious life.
Marjorie Horne is the founder of CareSmart Seniors Consulting and Host of the Engaging In Aging Radio show on AM1150 every Sunday at 9 a.m.