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I am an elder ,I think living through life with grace and kindness works . Giving is so importment ,invite the neighbors for an ipromptu porch sitting with a bowl of chili and a chat . Top it of with hugs and love .
Just lots of wisdom which I appreciate hearing.
Old age is not for the fainthearted.
Life is hard.
Maybe this doesn’t seem all that positive/grateful but the realization of this lesson comes from a place of compassion. We’re all trying to figure this out. We’re all trying our absolute best. Even if some of my (closely related) elders weren’t sharing lessons for life, they did love, and they did care, and they did want the best for the people around them. To look back and put myself in the shoes of those elders, there was immense pain and yet they kept pushing on, they kept trying their best. They were relentless in the face of suffering. There was so much love there, even if it wasn’t always apparent. We’re all going through it. We’re all figuring it out. We all deserve a little space to make “mistakes”, and a little compassion to allow us to find our way.
Three ideas stand out.
The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the impressive, the humiliating, all eventually pass.
Intention, work and sincere reflection is what can bring wisdom with time, not age alone.
Trusting relationships are what sustain in old age – it’s never too late to build them.
Let peace be your guide.
Acceptance of what is.
From my former father in law, I learned
that there are always trade-offs. And thats
okay. This helps me, to not get paralyzed
when making decisions. And from many
older people, I have learned (sadly) that the
answers we seek, don’t necessarily come with
age. I’ve always enjoyed hanging out with older
people and hearing their story’s.
I have come to the conclusion at the age of 81 that everyone and everything is my teacher. The old and the young, the trees, the grasses and what we call the weeds.
In Ken Nerburn’s book, “The Wolf at Twilight,” he quotes the Native American Elders words about the weakness the American Indians saw when our ancestors landed on their shores.
“The greatest weakness of your people is that you do not know how to listen.
You have closed your ears to other voices. Not just the voices of other people,
but the voices of all creation.”
Many of my teachers I’ve never met. I’ve only read their written works. Authors like Ram Dass, Alan Watts, Thich Nhat Hanh and Br. David.
I share a memory from my 2009 journal that is an example of how an ancestor/elder was my teacher.
During the Civil War, my husband’s ancestors started a small cemetery on the side of a mountain in southern Missouri. I was introduced to it on a cold rainy day in 1979 when we buried my father-in-law there. As I stood in the rain looking at the array of tombstones, I was drawn to a hand cut stone. It was quite large, a really big black and gray rock with all kinds of bold angles; it look like a mountain in miniature. It was definitely a powerful image of strength.
I walked over to it. The epitaph read, “She done what she could.” I was deeply moved. I couldn’t help but wonder what this woman’s life had been like. What would have prompted her family to choose this epitaph? I was getting down right emotional but why such a surge of feelings? Was I identifying with her?
I said to my husband, “Jim, who is she?” He said, “I think she’s my great-grandmother.”
I knew that Jim’s great-grandfather had been a scout for the government, roaming the mountains of southern Missouri and the Arkansas Ozarks. When he retired, he had received a large land grant from the government and that is how Jim’s family ended up in the Eldon, Missouri area. I knew his great-grandfather’s wife had birthed several sons and that the land he was given had been divided equally among them upon his death but I had never heard any stories about her so why was I feeling like I had walked in her shoes?
I’m sure her life had been a struggle. She had faced the rough and tough challenges of being a frontier wife and raising a large number of children alone while her husband was gone looking for salt mines and mapping the country-side for the U.S. government.
I certainly couldn’t relate to that. My life had been more like being lost in the desert. The disease of alcoholism took residence in our home when my children were very young and I watched a good man live in a bottle and even when he put the bottle down, his feelings resided in his toes and never got past his knees. He became the perfect scapegoat for a wounded young woman who needed someone on whom she could project her childhood anger. It took many years for me to realize the importance of owning my own anger. I didn’t just suffer. I was miserable. I had to learn that to grow suffering is often inevitable but misery is optional.
My priest friend and I were discussing this and he said the epitaph on his tombstone would be “All is Grace.” And, I thought “Yes, all is grace for those who have eyes to see.” I remembered a poster I used to have that showed a man surfing and the caption read, “Success is getting up one more time than you fall.” All we can do is our best in any given moment and it will always be enough.
In 2023, I would add, be grateful for the lessons and willing to learn.
Powerful Carol. Thank You.
An elder myself, I currently live in a facility with some 200 other elders. I am learning patience with diminshment from my confreres as well kindness & compassion from our caregivers. Both groups remind me of the importance of a sense of humor.😊
This, too, shall pass.
One day at a time.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, and nearly all of it is small stuff.
Be true to yourself.
The two major lessons are, appreciate the health you have and the one constant is change.
Patents and a willingness to listen are a few things I have leavened from older people. I have also learned that helping others is very important. And that I don’t need to try to do absolutely everything in one day !
I think I learned the art of worry from my Mom! Mostly, the lessons I have learned I learned on my own. I was taking care of myself at a young age….My brother who was 15 years older than me…helped me along- encouraged me and loved me. But all in all mine was a solitary learning experience….Blessings to all on this site…I learn a great deal from those older and younger than I am here. Thank you.
This morning I’m feeling whimsical about the many lessons I’ve learned from Elders. I’ll summarize by quoting a Simon & Garfunkel tune: “Slow down, you move too fast; you gotta make the morning last. Kicking down the cobble stone, Life is fun, ‘do-it-n-do-it’ feeling groovy…”
This is great.
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