I have been reading some wonderful blogs lately by women in their 50s, and that's led me to reflect upon my own experience in the decades between 50-70. A lot of seasoning occurred during that time, at least in my experience. I lived through a very unpleasant divorce at 56 and once the shock of that explosion began to fade in my psyche I dug out from under the sand and began to discover myself in a completely fresh way. Living alone, I had no one else to care for. I've had a long, slow chance to look deeply into the still pool of my soul and consider what is most valuable and important to me. What a blessing.
I'm much more relaxed about being myself than I was when I was in my 50s. I've developed a gentle kind of internal authority. It happened somewhere in the mid 60s. I'm certain that this is part of what is meant when we speak about maturing. I know much more about the gifts I have to share and how I want to share them. Also a blessing.
Reading Susan Piver's beautiful blog on the value of sadness the other day, I reflected upon how little I write about my Buddhist practice in this blog, though it thoroughly saturates my life. I have been a Buddhist since 1973 and have had many wonderful adventures of and teachings from Tibetan masters. I cannot imagine what my life would have been without these extraordinary meetings and my commitment to spiritual inquiry and deeper self understanding. Fortunately, I don't have to imagine that. Hallelujah! Living in such a secular society, doused as it is with fundamentalist religion, I feel protective about my spiritual life. It's so close to my heart. I will say this: my spiritual practice and the perspective it affords gives me courage in the midst of the wild waves of this era.
We had the first rehearsal of some songs from A New Wrinkle the other day, in preparation for A Celebration of Aging on April 23rd. It was great--4 wonderful singers and a wonderful pianist. Two more rehearsals to go. It's pretty exhilarating to be putting on this event, bringing together the performers and crew and magnetizing the audience. Lots of learning, new people, challenges and surprises. I'm also sending a proposal to Oregon Humanities, suggesting aging as a Conversation Project topic.
And I find myself longing to spend at least a little time immersing myself back into the writing of Songs of the Inner Life, a book project that nourishes me deeply, and that I want to finish and bring forth.
Meanwhile, I continue to notice what is being said in the culture about aging. Here's an interesting article from the New York Times about baby boomers who never had children, and their concerns about who will care for them in their old age.
And here is a link to a film that is being aired on some public television stations about various folks in their 90s. Now that gives me pause. If so much growth happens between 50-70, then what is it like from 70-90? Check out the trailer for the movie that is part of this link.
Oh and a recent article from the New York Times reported about Stephane Hessel, a hero of the French Resistence. At 93, he is the author of a best seller that has become a publishing phenomenon in France. As the Times reports, "It is not the story of his life (he wrote his autobiography years ago), but a thin, impressionistic pamphlet called “Indignez-Vous!,” held together by two staples and released by a two-person publishing house run out of the attic of their home. It urges young people to revive the ideal of resistance to the Nazis by peacefully resisting the “international dictatorship of the financial markets” and defending the “values of modern democracy.” Since its publication in October, the pamphlet has sold over 1.5 million copies.
I checked the blog of the An-Tiki voyage, led by 84 year old captain Anthony Smith. They're still rafting across the Atlantic. I like following their progress.
I like the way that sages play.