We have been told that getting old is not something to look forward to. As we see ageing parents, grandparents, great grandparents and look at elderly people, we get a sense that it is not a stage of life to look forward to. We have heard the younger generation saying, “That is what we are going to be like when we get old.”
Growing up I had a reflection of grandparents and elders in my life, and as a child I would often ask myself what it would be like to be old and what would I look like.
As I was always spending time with older people, I used to find that the elders in my life had so much to share in what they had to say and in their expression of their life experiences and lessons learned, but also what they thought of being an elder.
Whether we are grandparents, elders, a pensioner, retiree, or just old, there are rules, regulations and systems that tell us what it is to be old. We are fitted into a box of ‘oldies’.
For example, as elders we can often feel dismissed by younger generations. On many occasions when I have been in family situations, there may be reaction to what I or another older member of the family have expressed. Younger people will comment that we don’t know what it is like to be living and working in these times, that “everything is different now and there are many changes from when you were growing up,” when something that was shared came from lived experience and wisdom. The elder is judged as having passed their use by date, they should retire and yet be available for support when needed.
What is old and what does that truly mean?
As I have turned 67 years old, I reflect on what ‘old’ truly means. As I have always expressed to younger generations, we are not old – we are “Elders in Divine Wisdom.”
There is no such thing as old if we truly come to the loving understanding and awareness of the divine and beautiful reflection we can all bring as Elders.
Being an Elder is the responsibility of
- how we take care of ourselves, and
- what we are bringing to the all.
As an elder there is the opportunity for reflecting and pondering on letting go of things in life that no longer belong or fit in the body and home. For example, letting go of the things in our body – our hurts, anger, frustration, regrets, being in the past, sympathy, disregard, abuse, judgement, criticising self and others, not wanting to accept the choices we have made in life or not accepting oneself in all the magnificence we are, taking things for granted, not appreciating what we have done or what we have and where we have been in the learning of life.
Then there is the hanging onto things in the home that are no longer needed but clutter the home with old memories and attachment to belongings that keep us held in the past.
What is our responsibility with the way we are expressing? Are we honouring of self and others, confirming, inspiring, appreciating and bringing our all in every moment of the day? Are we bringing our love of life, self and others?
- Do we feel enriched by what we have lived and what we have yet to live? or,
- Are we in the internal poverty of how it should have been, how I could have changed that, how I could have done it better? and,
- Most of all, the regret that I did not get to do everything I wanted to do in life and now I have no energy or time;
- Thinking it is all too late and I am now too old and frail to even want to do those things; or
- Caught up in regrets, ideals and beliefs about what could have been.
Or are we able to allow ourselves to just be and accept that there is more to life in that moment of where we are and ask what is it that we can now bring to all with all we have within, to enrich with the magnificence that we are?
There is much more we can bring to the body and into our lives of true livingness as The Elder, for all of humanity as we all learn from each other.
Kathy A., Australia
If you enjoyed this article for further reading you may also like:
What does it Mean to be an Older Person?