Honoring the Elders? Become one.

26 Nov

Becoming elderly will happen whether you choose to become an Elder or not. Becoming an Elder requires a choice. You can honor the person you have become, or get lost in regrets, guilt and broken dreams.

Becoming an Elder requires making peace with the past and purposefully leaning into the future.

It’s really a decision about who you want to be in the latter half of your life. Will you become a source of wisdom and clarity for those around you? Or will you become a bitter, selfish burden of complaints and ailments?

Most people have a habit of doing the same thing they’ve always done. They copy behaviors modeled to them by family and society without question. They resign themselves to ‘getting old’ – to never figuring out what life is really about. They give up the race before it’s even been run. What else can you do? (Most people have forgotten they have a choice.)

You and I know better. We have a choice. We can choose to trust that we are Elder material; believe that we have what it takes to be a wise person, a source of clarity. I certainly don’t feel I have it together enough, for enough of the time to be ‘wise’ let alone clear. But I’m it now. I’m next in line. When my kids come to me for advice with their ten foot tall and bullet proof attitude –  I can either take this next phase of my journey seriously or I can turn my back and try to run like hell in the other direction. My kids are the main reason I’ve decided to wise-up. You’ll have your own reasons; tapping at your shoulder, making it clear that you have wisdom the world needs.

What’s ironic is how well prepared we are for becoming an Elder. Our life becomes the perfect training ground for mastering the tools of the Elder: wisdom, understanding, compassion and patience.

READY:  You begin on the on the starting block. You get into your lane, put your toe on that line and get prepared to run. Your parents, teachers, coaches, pastors and culture prepare you – you’re a little sponge accepting information, guidance, examples, attitudes, and behaviors from the outer world. You gain energy, stamina, dreams and skills. With all the outer stimulation, you listen to your inner wisdom less and less, getting caught up in the business of becoming, achieving – devouring everything in sight.

STEADY:  Once you hit your late twenties you are (ideally) prepared to enter society as mature, responsible adult. You haven’t really questioned what you’ve been taught; you’ve just accepted what you’ve learned as truth, and then made it your truth. Toes on the line, hand on the starting block, ready, steady.   No movement is allowed –hold fast to your mark and wait for the gun. This is the time when ‘wait for it’ is heard- and false starts are common. All inner movement is potential, a gathering, a holding of energy; waiting, maturing. Ripening. Invisible. Inevitable. Outwardly, you test your skills; build your character, usually one mistake at a time. You experience at least one dark night of the soul. It’s so easy to get out of control, overextended, overwhelmed. So many false starts. You end up trying to control everything; parenting, kids, marriage, job, house, car, pets, leisure time, date nights. You are officially caught up in the loop of succeeding, possessing, proving, providing and accumulating.

GO!  Somewhere around age fifty, the starting gun went off. I didn’t even see this one coming. Surrounded by enough piles of inner and outer baggage to open my own thrift store, I had forgotten that I was all geared up for a race. To me it was just business as usual. Apparently, life had another agenda. (#letting go) – In the lineup were waistline, eyesight, children, parents, youth, health and lots of ‘stuff’. I was suddenly jolted into awareness, forced to change – ready or not. Struggling to cope with the ending of relationships, conditions, and situations that I loved deeply, having to let go when I was not ready to let go. Understanding that I wasn’t really in control after all. I was certainly underprepared for all of ‘this’.

But ‘this’ is it, isn’t it? This release is somehow what I’ve been waiting for – what life actually has been preparing me for. The gun, the signal, the great big ‘GO!’ that releases all the built up tension, all the momentum stored, all the latent energy finally let loose. Run!

Fight it.

Lean into it.

Your choice.

 

The decision you make here is a critical one. It will color all the rest of your days, your relationships, your focus and how you spend your time.

Choose to release the things you have outgrown and that which no longer serves you.  With all the outgrown remnants finally cast off; you will extricate yourselves from years of ‘should’ and ‘because I said so’. You will enter ‘why not?’ and ‘because I can!’ You will be lighter than you have ever been.

Everything to this point has prepared you to be here, now. You are on Sacred Ground. You find that gloriously, thankfully, miraculously, this race is not to be won by strategy, but by character. Your character. Shaped by years of preparation; learning, mistakes, triumphs and experience.

What have you been waiting for all your life? Start now. Pursue your story, because you finally have one to tell. You know who you are now. You know this runner. Let go of everything. Concentrate on the journey as it presents itself.  Be open to wonder.

You’ll find that you’ll begin to love the race for itself and your joyful participation in it.

Run. Because it won’t be the same without you.

4 Responses to “Honoring the Elders? Become one.”

  1. janet balboa November 30, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

    maybe I’m not standing on a stage- but I can say thanks Dad for everything you taught me. first and foremost to question everything. And that without love, it’s easy to be a clanging bell or a sounding gong. That little unsung kindnesses are what ripen into happiness. How important it is to have your partner be your best friend. To love your family no matter what because they are the only people that have to love you. To whom much is given, much is expected. To concern myself less with differences and more with creating bridges. That it’s easier to say your sorry than ask for permission ( :) ) To see the light in everything and know that we are always taken care of. That life is too important to be taken seriously. For all this and all that is beyond expression but is in my heart – Thanks Dad.

  2. janet balboa November 30, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

    it’s strange. I feel that I am finally hitting my stride-yet this is something I suspected very early on-that I was going to be a ‘late’ bloomer. I always envied those who knew exactly what they were doing – knew their next step when I felt like mine were always confused and meandering. And now to find that my path served me well and that everything has a place in the adventure that is turning out to be my very own story. thankful for that. isn’t it great when you look around and can say ‘ah…here’. Here I am. I am here. Thanks Anne.

  3. Papa November 27, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    My dear young child, you are still becoming and your awareness seems appropriate. I pray you will not let everything go, for everything ( for better or worse) made you who you are. May this day and every day be a “thanksgiving” for you. All my love.

    Papa

  4. Anne November 27, 2014 at 2:04 am #

    This is lovely, Janet. We must be running the race side by side. I’ve felt all my life that I was ‘waiting’ for something…and now as I am starting to transition to being an ‘Elder’ that ‘something’ is becoming clear. It’s funny how our society worships youth, but I agree with you that the younger years are in so many ways a preparation…

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