Tag Archives: patience

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.

My Muse wants me.

8 Mar

we-can-do-it

There is a lovely story told of Monet as he sat deep in thought in his garden. His neighbor looked over the fence at him and said “Ah, the life of the artist – all rest and repose.”   Monet looked up in surprise and replied “No, you see, I am hard at work now. It is when you see me finally painting that all the work has been done. This composing, the pulling what I see to the canvas, this is the work my friend.”

I say this because every time I start something new there is a nasty bit of time where frustration and impatience threaten to end my creation even before it begins.

Frustrated by the inevitable loss of something in the translation from feeling/experience to manifest image, I lose my connection.

Frustrated by the fact that I don’t see clearly enough, I lose my connection.

Frustrated that I am ‘wasting time’, I lose my connection.

Meanwhile, my Muse patiently picks at her gel nail tips waiting for my return to the task at hand. It’s  gonna happen. We know each other. We have a dance worked out.

I am greatly relieved to remember Monet and his understanding of the role of the artist in the attitude, preparation and conception of any creation. The necessary hard work which often deteriorates into courting, begging and flat –out threatening of the muse. My Muse, in addition to her traditional role as bringer of inspiration, has also taken on the admirable qualities of any good bartender/bouncer. She listens patiently, nods, encourages, yet will swiftly cut me off if I threaten unconsciousness. 14280-last-judgment-michelangelo-buonarrotiAncient muses were lovely, slender ethereal beings. Looking more like one of Michelangelo’s manly, robust gals, my muse is fully prepared and willing to kick my ass.  At first I was a bit put off by the tattoos and piercings, but I realize why she has had to toughen up.

We don’t take our muses seriously anymore. Only a century ago, Thoreau, Yeats, and Emerson walked endlessly across the countryside courting, pondering; thinking. Einstein takes a menial job so that he has time to think. Monet sits in the sun.

Time is a luxury. I know this. We say we don’t have the time. But time contains within it eternity. It takes only an instant for a sunset to move us to awe, the grateful look of a child can bring us to tears in a heartbeat, and lovers can show us the face of god.

Forget about time. I’m talking about attitude. Being open to the mystery, the awe, the wonder – Muses have always been irresistibly attracted to this type of human. If working out gets you into your creative grove, do it. If volunteering at your kid’s school gets your compassion going, be there. If having a glass of red and staring at a blank canvas gets you in the moment, do that. Cranking up the music on the drive home? Cooking gourmet dinners? Sitting in a garden? Do whatever it takes to show up.

Maybe art isn’t your thing. But if you are human, creativity is your thing. Your Muse is here. Waiting and a little impatient I might add. Tough gals now, appearing with sleeves rolled up and ready for work. Try to be there when she shows up.

So work it. Work the attitude. Spend time doing things that engage you with the mystery that is beyond, around, and within us all. If you can bring just one bit of that wonder and awe down here to earth, you have served us all well. Court the Muses, create space for their whisperings. (Yeah, unfortunately they still whisper. Seriously? Who whispers anymore?)

And if you don’t want to take my word for it, my other Muse whispers this:

It seems to me that it’s the work of poets and artists to know what the world-image of today is, and to render it as the old seers did theirs. The prophets rendered it as a manifestation of the transcendent principle. That’s what we lack today, really. I think poets and artists who speak of the mystery are rare. There’s been so much social criticism of our arts, which is just one facet. But the other function of the poet – that of opening the mystery dimension – has been, with few great exceptions, forgotten. I think that what we lack, really, isn’t science but poetry that reveals what the heart is ready to recognize. ~joseph campbell

We are here. Whatever the reason. Our only real job is to show up and be open to inspiration. We don’t get to choose to be inspired; it’s hard- wired into our nature. It has always chosen us. Let her find you ready to work when she comes.

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