What do we mean by ‘Elder Wisdom’? What does it entail and who is privy to it? Have I got it? My age (three score years and ten plus a little more) could suggest that I might qualify and that I have wisdom to share. But is it more than just the accumulation of years and life experiences? Could there also be an element of responsibility that brings with it a deeper understanding of life?
Elder wisdom carries with it a level of responsibility in what we are able to share with others based on the quality of how we have lived with integrity and responsibility.
I’ve heard ‘elders’ – older people – offer expressions such as “don’t let the bastards get you down” … and it concerns me that a young person might take this away with them as a guide to life. Is this elder wisdom or simply an expression of an attitude that has been fostered from a certain way of life?
And what about young people, the ones we refer to as ‘an old soul’, knowingly commenting that “they’ve been here before”? What do we mean by this? There is a certain grounded-ness about them, would you agree, a sense that they have insight into life, a wisdom ‘beyond their years’? What I also find interesting about this is the unstated reference to reincarnation. After all, how else could they be ‘an old soul’ or ‘been here before’!
Could it be that elder wisdom is not the domain of the old, but a reflection of a deeper sense of connection to an inner wisdom and understanding of our journey here on earth?
This inner wisdom can be felt in both older and younger people, but not in all older or younger people.
So, I come back to my question, what do we mean by ‘Elder Wisdom’? … because as I’ve inferred, just because someone is old doesn’t mean wisdom is coming from their mouth, nor does it mean they have discovered or developed wisdom from the way they have lived or are living now. I have seen many an older person weighed down by anger, sadness, depression and bitterness and the so-called ‘wisdom’ they express comes with the bitter edge of long-held emotions.
Can we truly reflect or express wisdom if we have not lived wisely?
For myself, I can say that for most of my life I have not lived wisely. I have been hard on myself (and still am at times), I have been neglectful of self-care and self-respect (and still am sometimes), I have allowed abuse and I have given abuse through being dismissive and neglectful of others’ feelings. Well I can certainly say in all truth that this is not a loving way to live.
Do I have any wisdom to share?
I have learned my lessons and am still learning on a daily basis how to live more lovingly and respectfully of myself and others. I am growing towards ‘Elder Wisdom’ by re-connecting to the wisdom within that I neglected and ignored for so very long.
This deep source of wisdom is within all of us … waiting, you could say, for us to recognise and re-connect to it.
It is possible that we all have this ‘Elder Wisdom’ which is loving, non-judgmental, compassionate, understanding, responsible and embracing of all and, what’s more, which embodies joy.
I am now surrounded by dear friends and elders who have discovered the joy within, who are expanding in their elder years rather than contracting and who are enjoying life in the deepest sense. I sense that when they come back they will be the children we turn to and say, “now there’s an old soul, they’ve been here before!”.
I embrace what is ahead of me as I move more and more into my ‘elder wisdom’ and the joy it can bring not only to me but to all those around me as I age.
Judy F., Australia