A Reflection on Aging by Sara Wright

 In feminism becoming a ‘wise’ crone is acknowledged (it is certainly true that experience brings insight), but the vulnerabilities associated with aging remain hidden. I wonder how much of this silence has to do with shame? Does our culture’s obsession with youth keep us quiet?  If so this attitude isolates women from one another when older women need each other’s support more than ever. Lately, I find myself keenly aware that I need to write about the changes that are occurring in my own life so that I remain visible to myself if not to others.

When it comes to the challenges of aging the silence is deafening.

Turn, Turn, Turn

It’s May Day. At dawn I scoop water from the brook, first pouring some on the earth and then, returning to the house, I bless the floor of the log cabin that is my home. I light candles for intentions… Too sensitive to light (phototrophic) I am acutely aware that the wheel is turning her face towards the harsh white glare of summer.

 A dangerous time.

The light of the noonday star casts no shadow.

 I bless my animals, my body-mind. Listening to Phoebe’s sweet two syllable call, and thrilled by the Grosbeak’s arrival I give thanks for every bird, bee and flower – for all the wild beings, and for deep silence at sunrise. The Earth is a Lady in Waiting.

I listen to inner voices I want to heed…

My aging body instructs me sternly. You broke a foot in last winter’s ice. Move slowly and mindfully. Pay attention to pain; don’t ignore it. Your bones are fragile; you are growing old. Honor your life. Don’t expect that others will. Give thanks. Help nature and people any way that you can, even if it is just through prayer. These are your jobs now…

Sit under your favorite trees… “a woman sits on the ground leaning against a pine. Its bark presses hard against her back… its needles scent the air and a force hums in the heart of the wood. Her ears tune down to the lowest frequencies. The tree is saying things in words before words”. (Richard Powers)

Yes.

During the summer season, take refuge in cool forests, flowing streams, breathe in fragrant hemlock terpenes, give thanks for leafy canopies,  “a chorus of living wood sings…if your mind were only a slightly greener thing, we’d drown you in meaning” (Richard Powers).

 Listen to the water sounds that preceded creation. Remember that you don’t have to live through a culture that predicates itself on speed – or embrace doing and distraction as a way of life.

 Lean into your latest passions… learn more about mosses. Paint. The first green plants emerged out of a sea of green algae 450 million years ago to become miniature emerald forests. The mind – bending truth is that these diminutive plants are identical to those that first emerged from water  – they survived five extinctions unscathed. Four hundred fifty years million years old!  Miraculous. Bryologist/author Robin Wall Kimmerer says moss forests support a plethora of wildlife including microscopic water bears.

Love your dogs!

 Bask in the glow of the setting sun – let the bruised – blue evening and fractured diamond sky overcome you with wonder, gratitude, and peace…

Of course, the decisions I make about how to spend my time are different from those that others might make. What’s important is that as we age we make choices that are not only meaningful for us as individuals, but those that accord our aging bodies the respect they deserve, acknowledged or not.

Picture of Sara Wright standing outside in nature

BIO: Sara is a naturalist, ethologist (a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.



Categories: Aging, General, Nature

Tags: , , ,

13 replies

  1. Wonderful essay, Sara. I especially loved your last paragraph: “What’s important is that as we age we make choices that are not only meaningful for us as individuals, but those that accord our aging bodies the respect they deserve, acknowledged or not.” This requires that we value ourselves, listen to ourselves, and act on that intuitive knowledge we have about ourselves, something the larger patriarchal culture obstructs! Thank you for writing.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is so beautiful and insightful. Even in a culture that obsesses about youth, you show how to find peace and perspective and use these years as they were meant to be. I am reminded of the studies that show that old people are actually happier than younger people, despite the physical challenges that come with aging, because they have learned how to manage life and they know themselves. Your post should be required reading for everyone, no matter what their age!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Wow Carolyn your response was quite an endorsement – thank you! I think older people (some anyway) have learned to appreciate what they have…part of it has to do with SLOWING down… how does anyone know what they feel when a person is always on the run?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Yes, let us honor ourselves and our aging bodies and make our own best decisions. How many women are as brave as you are to write such a post? Good for you! Bright blessings, too.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Thank you for your refreshing essay. Your writings always make me reflect.

    I noticed when my stepfather contacted terminal cancer, no one outside the family visited–and even extended family visits dropped off fast. I decided this was because he was a reminder of their own mortality.

    Unfortunately, in a youth-orriented society, the elders are often marginalized and not valued, which is a huge shame. Part of the reason is because aging is considered a bad thing, which no one wants to be associated with growing old. I vote to change the description to gaining wisdom. That is what aging is if we allow it to be.

    Liked by 4 people

    • No doubt not visiting WAS more about the visitors fear of death and you are right. Aging is considered to be a very negative thing, which is why I encourage women to speak their truths so that we can weave a more wholesome web.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Is it possible the silence is not about shame but about grief?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I think it is about both. Of course I am speaking from my own experience and I do feel grief. The lack of adequate help from others creates the shame.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for such a beautiful post (again) Sara
    I’ve been thinking about Jan’s comment about grief – which feels like another thing our culture doesn’t quite know how to do well which has impacts for ourselves and for others.
    Your writing opens an aspect of ageing in a deeply helpful way – of course there will be other perspectives for reflection and that we can offer each other but thank you so much for offering this reflection and the hope it enables.
    Once again you make me pause and wonder – may you find many mosses to paint and receive much love from your dogs

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thank you Sara – deeply reflective. I appreciate your post.

    Like

      • Hi Sara – it is so good to find this blog and your writing. I share your Crone thoughts so strongly I wrote a feminist fiction addressing Jungian themes and the honouring of the Crone archetype and called it “Behold.” I strongly believe and see a burgeoning growth in and reclamation of Divine Feminism not as ascending but as descending – dark and light. So good to find like-mindeds!

        Like

Please familiarize yourself with our Comment Policy before posting.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: