Featuring the Best Content about Spirituality & Aging on the Web–
AARP: MORTALITY WHITEWASH
Readers of Fierce with Age know that it is critical for Boomers to break denial about aging and engage in a serious wrestle with issues of ultimate concern on the way to making true peace with growing old. And then there’s the Oct/Nov 2013 issue of “AARP The Magazine”, with the largest readership of Boomers in the world.
Throughout the magazine, Boomers are portrayed as relentlessly cheerful about aging, busy reimagining our lives, considering “real possibilities”, choosing amongst “the best places to live” and so on. Even when the magazine is forced to tip its hat in the direction of issues that Boomers should at least be beginning to seriously consider—loss, diminishment and mortality—the shadow is romanticized to the point of denial. Witness Valerie Harper “Faced with inoperable cancer, the beloved star of Rhoda reacts just the way we’d want her to: with gritty determination and a healthy laugh.”
But it doesn’t end—not even here. When we least expect it—in an article about Yoga—we’re cheerily invited to practice “3 Poses for your 60s”, one of which is “The Corpse Pose”. Yes, indeed, the one in which you lie flat on your back, eyes closed, feet splayed, surrendering to the floor.
Being serious about the shadow side of aging does not mean we can’t also be cheerful, optimistic and have a great sense of humor—or, of course, practice the corpse pose to our heart’s content feeling both surrendered and serene. But mature spirituality challenges us to embrace the whole range of human emotions, including appropriate grief, anger and bittersweet sorrow. It is imperative on us all to face our deepest fears, tell the truth about our real circumstances and make authentic peace with mortality. We can’t skip the difficult steps and go straight from eternal youth to serene corpse. We become Fierce with Age not despite the shadow side of aging, but because we have become whole enough to embrace it all.
This issue of the Digest highlights the work of thought leaders who show us how.
On August 16, author/OD consultant Dr. John Scherer was in Nottingham, England, on the last day of a 20-day, 7-city trip. Overworked and exhausted, he suffered a pinched nerve that sent hm flat on his back to bed for three weeks of recovery. In his most recent issue of the Scherer Leadership Report, John writes:
“How/why did it happen? Many in my Network or friends and Associates asked me that question. I told them that, as I lay there with a lot of time to do nothing but think about things, I imagined a ‘meeting’ held inside my body with members of my internal ‘Wellness Committee’ having a conversation in early in August:
‘This guy John, just doesn’t get it! He thinks he’s still 32, not 72. He loves his work so much he doesn’t realize when he’s getting tired.’
‘Yeah. . . He’s like that Energizer Bunny: he keeps going and going and going.’
‘Maybe it’s partly a result of his being a descendant of (the American Pioneer) Daniel Boone’s family. The strong Frontiersman and all that. . .’
‘What can we do?! If he keeps this up, he could really develop a serious threat to his amazing health and wellness.’
‘OK, here’s what we’ll do. . . Let’s not give him a heart attack-that’s way too severe. Plus, as his Doctor says, he has the heart of a lion. But whatever we do, it has to take him OUT OF ACTION, I mean we have to PUT HIM D-O-W-N. How about a pinched nerve in his back and hip that makes it too painful for him to conduct business as usual?’
‘Great idea! That’ll give him time to reflect on the pace of his life and give his body time to rest and renew itself. Let’s look for the opportunity and, when it comes, let’s seize it!’
John is doing better now, and shared the following take-aways with us:
- No more 20-day, six-city trips, no matter how wonderful each segment might be.
- I apparently have a lot of people who care about me-even if I am not helping them.
- A weekend each month spent doing something that has nothing to do with work.
- An appreciation for each and every day lived without pain and with full mobility.
- A relaxing deep-tissue body-work session twice a month with my Physical Therapist.
“Please take care of yourselves out there. . .”
To follow Dr. Scherer’s blog, click HERE.
“Getting older is not something to be denied and avoided, it is something to be accepted, experienced, honored and celebrated.”
–George and Sedena Cappannelli, from their new book Do Not Go Quietly.
In the book, the authors provide links to five guided visualizations, titles below. They have given our readers permission to sign up for free access to these offerings through their website. Click HERE.
“Americans have an appetite for staying young—no, more than an appetite—an insatiable hunger to remain unwrinkled, thin, and youthful. It seems we want to be accepted for who we were, not who we are, as we push into our sixties, seventies, eighties, and beyond.
But what if the midlife and later years were not something to be feared? What if these years were about creating things, finding purpose, discovering meaning, having fun, and experiencing joy? How different would our later years be if we measured our days not by what we might lose, but by what we might gain?”
Excerpt from The Ageless Spirit: Reflections on Living Life to the Fullest in Midlife and the Years Beyond by Connie Goldman.
SHADOWS BY D.H. LAWRENCE
And if, in the changing phases of man’s life
I fall in sickness and misery
my wrists seem broken and my heart seems dead
and strength is gone, and my life is only the leavings of my life:
and still, among it all, snatches of lovely oblivion, and snatches of renewal odd,
wintry flowers upon the withered stem, yet new, strange flowers
such as my life has not brought forth before, new blossoms of me–
then I must know that still
I am in the hands of the unknown God,
he is breaking me down in his own oblivion
to send me forth on a new morning, a new man.
As a hospice chaplain “I have had the opportunity to listen to what the patients themselves believe is next. Some go for the traditional Heaven/Hell dichotomy, and just about all believe that they will be reunited with their loved ones in at least a reasonably congenial place…
Once in a while, I will hear a novel belief that in turn shapes mine. A lady in her mid-nineties facing the loss of her kid sister talked of what was in essence designer locations for the Beyond. Why limit the options to Heaven or Hell? Perhaps different kinds of places await each person, depending upon their life story, inclinations and so on. Maybe some of us will merge with Nature, others with pulses of energy. Maybe yet others will find themselves in a profound and nourishing quietness. Wherever I happen to land, I hope it includes plentiful love and the occasional dark chocolate gooey brownie minus the frosting.”
–Karen B. Kaplan, from her blog Offbeat Compassion
For a free subscription to Fierce with Age: The Digest of Boomer Wisdom, Inspiration and Spirituality and to view this and all past issues of the Digest: http://www.fiercewithage.com
For information on Dr. Carol Orsborn’s Boomer communications and programming for aging, religious and healthcare organizations, click HERE.
Contact Carol Orsborn,Ph.D. at Carol@fiercewithage.com.
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