Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Lessons of the Elders

The house has been joyfully warmed, and we dare to hope that this long transitional year of moving is coming to a close.  Of course, there are still many challenges.  The house continues to require lots of attention.  I decided last week that the reason why we were having so many issues pop up is not that the house is hating us - it's just showing us all the ways it's been neglected!  The aesthetics were lovingly attended to, but the foundational, structural, nitty gritty aspects of caring for a house built in 1908 had been...well...somewhat postponed.  I do hope we'll still have a little money at the end of this period!  

But we love it here - the house, the neighborhood, our extended family on-site.  We've had four mornings of rainbows, and gorgeous sunsets and sunrises.

What I will be doing (beyond home and family) is still unclear to me.  I am pleased to be working with Jennifer Berezan on next November's big concert, Song for All Beings.  Ever since my trip to Malta with Jennifer and Joan Marler I have wanted to do more work with Jennifer.  Now that I'm in the east bay, it's become possible.

One of the things on my mind lately (and kind of a lot on an ongoing basis) is (no surprise here) aging.  I'm working on this poem.  It doesn't feel totally finished, but I wanted to share it while it's fresh.  The title is the title of this blog post.

In the heart of midlife
I began observing my elders
I wanted to learn how to inhabit 
the final stage of life.

What I saw:
Aging is a process of
distilling down, of
drying, like fruit, into
essential flavors.
And so I found both hope
and a warning.

The warning:
Without work and awareness
an elder ripens into
the essence of her flaws.
If fear or anger or denial dominates,
she risks dying as she has lived.

The hope:
By turning away from oneself and
towards the world, the children, and
those in her sphere of influence,
an elder assumes the power
to bless.

Soon – too soon – the time will come
when my elders are all gone,
(should all pass in order.)
I will no longer be able
to look ahead for guidance
except to the otherworld.
I will be one of the ones
on the leading edge.
Making our way to that cliff
is not optional.
How we traverse it is.

I want to be one of the one who blesses.
I want to be regarded
as a guide of hope.
So I must take my fundamental fears
and hold them up to a forgiving heart
and a generous universe.
I hope to learn how to set myself aside
and become a gift of aging.