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GROWING OLDClick thumbnail to view full-size
CHALLENGE TWO REFLECTIONS
This blog is part of a series. You might want to check out the initial blog http://hubpages.com/hub/MERRY-HUBS-MONTH and maybe yesterday's blog
http://hubpages.com/hub/challengeonegrowup to get a quick snapshot of the series and how this blog fits in. BUT this blog also stands on its own! Well, maybe it’s tilting just a tad! Okay, I’ll shush so you can read.
Yesterday’s challenge was to GROW UP Today’s challenge is to GROW OLD.
I am not thinking about the accumulation of birthdays or the physiological process. You know, the wrinkles, the aches and pains, the growing decrepit! I am reflecting on something beyond wrinkles and aches and pains, more of an internal experience of growing old, maybe even the pleasure of growing old.
When I connect to my sixty four short years and all the experiences of those years, I think I am a tad wiser and even lucky for having lived those years and particularly at this time in history. I also think those sixty four years have given me something to offer and feel a responsibility to offer it. Perhaps it’s "only" the experience itself and the historical perspective that comes with it, and maybe that’s exactly what growing old offers all of us. The experience itself and the historical perspective of whatever "age" we live in is right there in front of us for the taking..
It’s pretty "wild" to have lived during the Sixties although marred with dreadful assassinations, but also highlighted by dramatic events and changes in social, political, religious and scientific thought. I was glued to the television for not only the events surrounding the assassinations, but astronauts landing and walking on the moon as well.
As a philosophy major, the death of God meant for me the demise of the old man who was ready to strike me down with a lightning bolt. It was the beginning of a newfound freedom to acknowledge the stirrings of my soul which searched, like a radio telescope, for the God who I eventually found alive and well, just waiting for my recognition, like the rocks that sometimes cry out, begging me to pick them up as I hike my favorite trail, or the twenty five hundred year old redwood tree, guarding the banks of the south fork of the Gualala River in Northern California, whispering to me that God lives just beneath its bark, or the eyes of an infant begging me to wait till he initiates the encounter, or friends and lovers who yearn for me to drop my walls and just be loved by them.
The Sixties witnessed even the Vatican opening its doors and windows to LIFE, unfortunately short-lived. The flow of change finally committed itself to civil rights and nothing could stop the momentum.
During the eighties, I "saw" the Berlin Wall come tumbling down. There were no trumpets of Jericho, just some critical mass event of which I got to be a part although from a distance.
Advances in science and technology interestingly enough have made it possible for complex theories such as quantum physics and quantum mechanics to scientifically clear a path to a part of reality often referred to as "the spiritual" and often thought to rest outside, way outside, the domain of science. But there it is. Check out the film, What The Bleep Do We Know?
Growing old over these sixty four years has led to a commitment to take the time to look at each and every life event and each and every person who crosses my path, whether directly or indirectly, with an openness wide enough to encompass all possible explanations and to perhaps escape the snares of narrow mindedness and prejudice which are the principal ingredients of garbage disposal talk radio. Bits and pieces of precious truth are ground up together with chunks of fear, ignorance, personal logic, and statistics that are based upon none other than the host’s own narrow perspective and experience, an N of one.
Whoa! I guess that is quite a judgment. I would like to think it is only an observation, but yes, a judgment which perhaps contradicts what I said at the beginning of that paragraph. Perhaps part of growing old is being able to also recognize when I’m not so open!
I like growing old. When I was young, I "sported" a beard for twenty six years. That is another story for another day. But perhaps I was trying to be old. Now, at Sixty Four, I am clean-shaven. Don’t need whiskers to be old.
When I first started my practice in Marriage Family Therapy, a majority of my clients were older than me. I often sensed that they had little faith that a youngster (although I was 37) could be of any benefit to their working through their challenges. Now, most of my clients are much younger than me. I like it that way! It gives me an edge or an advantage, sort of like a handicap in golf, but I think this one is deserving in the best sense of the word. I think older is wiser! My age or my time on this earth and the encounters with ever so many different folks, leaves me feeling comfortable with just about anyone who makes an appointment, and my comfort leaves them feeling at ease as well, and the "work" before them becomes a little less stressful, a little less impossible, and the Staples’ button is so often the icing on the cake. "That was easy!"
So far, I have been sharing with you the pleasures of growing old. M-m-m. Maybe it’s time to shift and let myself become aware of where, in my "old" age I have yet to take on the challenge of growing old.
For starters, I have never admitted this so publicly before, but I dread or perhaps fear LOOKING old and, of course, the challenge to grow old entails at some point looking old. Perhaps not decrepit, but certainly not looking like a teenager or a young stud! I don’t want to smell old either!
So one challenge is to let go of this fear. I don’t imagine I will wake up tomorrow like Dorian Gray and scare the poop out of myself when I look into the mirror. And my Dad never really looked old, and he lived into his eighties. But letting go of this fear is a challenge and one I will take on. Perhaps it will grow some compassion in me for those who do look truly old. I tend to be judgmental when I see someone who looks really old, and I want to ask them, "What the heck happened to you?" Isn’t that terrible of me?
The other awareness I’m having, as I create this hub, is that I have been unwilling so far–very unwilling--to take on the challenge of batting cleanup. In baseball, the most powerful hitter is often assigned to bat cleanup, which is fourth in the batting lineup. I guess, theoretically, there is a good chance that one or two of the first three batters will get on base. The fourth batter, the cleanup batter, then holds the responsibility of driving them home–cleaning up.
I think the experience of age gives one the power and the capacity to bat cleanup. There are lots of areas of my life and family where I could bat cleanup, but I tend to dig in my hills and refuse. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I think if I bat cleanup, I will have to take responsibility for the messes, and I want someone else to take responsibility. I don’t even want to share the responsibility, even though I obviously DO share the responsibility for the messes.
Within our family, one of the ways I avoid the cleanup position is to clean the dishes almost daily. It’s a cover for my unwillingness to do the real cleanup. Isn’t that funny and interesting? None of this stuff has been conscious, and I suppose it would not make much difference if it were. So there are areas of my family life where I can exercise my age and wisdom and gently bat cleanup and drive everyone home in a lot of different areas. In contrast to driving everyone nuts.
There are also rooms in my office that look like Hurricane Katrina, metaphores for the cleanup necessary in my business. I make all kinds of excuses like not enough time, I am the only one here, I have no employees. It’s what’s called a SOLO practice and it really is SOLO. So get some help, right?
So when it comes to growing old, two areas of challenge for me today is letting go of my fear of looking old and batting cleanup at home and at the office. Wow, had no idea I would run into this. I’ll let you know how I do.
Thanks for reading. Please leave a comment or two, and for heaven’s sake, take the challenge for yourself or come up with your own.