Aging Gracefully

Aging gracefullyAging, growing older, getting gray hair, seeing wrinkles by our eyes when we smile, noticing brown spots on our hands, not being able to run as fast, not seeing as clearly; what does this mean to each of us? I was reading a book by Heyoka Merrifield, about the White Buffalo Calf Woman stories of the Plains Indians. White Buffalo Calf Woman brings the elders of the village together to create a new circle. Anyone who had an issue or problem could take it before this newly created circle. One elder grandmother was stepping down and appointing her grandson in her stead. And he wondered if he was up to the task. His hair had not yet turned gray or white. He believed that hair color signified how much wisdom and knowledge an individual had gained over time. But what do we do now? We seem to be very, very concerned with keeping up the appearance of youth as ever long as can be. Truthfully, my children are now getting gray hair. What sort of illusion do I want to create? I want to proud of my years. It’s taken me a while to get here, and I have good friends who did not make it this far. I want to honor age. I want to wear my gray hairs proudly. If I honor and respect my elders, can I then be respected as an elder too?

Our grandparents have many stories to tell us if we slow down and listen. If your grandparents do not live near you, you can listen to the stories of an elder neighbor, an elder teacher, an elder friend. Our elders also need to hear the stories of youth, so that they can stay connected to new thought forms surfacing and bubbling forth. Aging does not mean we should pick a way of being and then statically maintain it all costs. Our learning keeps on, until we die.   Learning keeps us growing and growing keeps us fresh, even if our skin is leathered. We can share our knowledge with the youth and the youth can bring forth fresh ideas, and then we co-create new patterns. We create a circle of sharing that includes all ages. Honoring only the youth keeps us as a culture young, unseasoned, and immature. The benefits of age are wisdom, more emotional stability, and a better ability to control anger and other negative emotions.

Brain researchers from Duke University and the University of Alberta compared the brains of 20 year olds to 70 year olds. Volunteers were asked to recall photos they had been shown of positive images or negative images. The older group had a harder time recalling the negative images than the younger group. Brain scans were done to examine the differences of the amygdales, which is responsible for processing memory and emotions. It was deduced that the amygdales react less to negative events as we age. Maybe that’s why we have a broader perspective as we age and the ability to see alternate patterns. Creatively daydreaming into my aging years is what I hope to do. I look forward to advancing years of harmony and insight.

 

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