Questions of meaning and spirit are with us throughout our lives. In later years, as we age, they re-assert themselves.
Meaning has to do with what motivates, brings us to make sacrifices, draws us into the future. Spirit invokes life's energy: what invigorates, renews us, brings wholeness when we have been broken.
My current book, In Later Years: Finding Meaning and Spirit in Aging, is based on conversations with people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s who look again at how they find meaning and what brings them life.
A woman struggles to find meaning at this stage of life. She visits residents in the assisted living section of her residence comunity and worries that she doesn't have answers to the questions they raise. So she listens, lets those she visits lead the conversations. In so doing, a practice has emerged: presence. She has found meaning in being present and attentive to others and to herself.
Some speak of the losses associated with aging, and these are real. Yet there is also discovery. An 88-year-old woman spoke about a moment of recognition as she downsized into a new apartment. "It was such a liberating feeling! I felt like I was myself and that I had gotten my old self back for the first time in 60 years!"
Recently, in a restaurant, I overheard a conversation between an older couple and their daughter. The father ventured, "I wonder if you worry about us, that we're getting old."
The daughter reacted immediately, "No! You are not getting old! End of conversation!" And it was the end; the father had been hushed by his daugher's response. After an awkward moment, they moved on to other things.
I hope this book might encourage conversations about aging that are too often silenced.
Contains guidelines for exploring and sharing issues related to aging.
"In Later Years is a primer for aging, helping us to navigate these difficult waters with grace and purpose."
Marilyn Sewell, author of Breaking Free: Women of Spirit at Midlife and Beyond
Copyright © 2019 Bruce T Marshall - All Rights Reserved.