In general, our society fails to offer beneficial attitudes and role models for aging.
Though aging was not something I thought a lot about in my younger years, I did not have any bias against the aging process. Elders were easier to talk to, had less drama, and would take the time to listen and reflect on life with me.
My experiences and family relationships taught me that getting older would be fine, and aging was a natural part of life. Perspective is everything. I’m grateful that I was supported and allowed to create a healthy view of aging.
As I arrive “over the hill,” now fully ensconced in my 60s, I’ve noticed that enjoying aging is not a widely shared attitude. Women in particular pay a hefty price in the aging arena; we are constantly bombarded by the cultural marketing machine, which delights in focusing on everything that we are not.
I want to age differently and I’d love to shift the conversation with my peers from disempowerment to empowerment.
The negative connotations of eldering (conscious aging) will continue unless we demand something different. By shifting to a new eldering-paradigm, we will cultivate an attitude that honors our value. We are creating this new roadmap and becoming the new role models for a society that will continue to live longer.
We have the opportunity to open the doorway—to forge the path of aging consciously, successfully, and mindfully. As we pioneer a new aging process, we can honor our ripening by making life-enhancing choices to become both radiant and wise. I think we all can get on board with that.
As parents and community members, we try everything in our power to support our young people with healthy self-esteem, confidence, skills, and resilience. Why then, do we sell ourselves short past 50? Why do we let ourselves be sold to, convinced that aging is negative, to be avoided and fought against? Why is older, experienced, and hopefully wiser, not better? If “youth is wasted on the young,” then why are we not taking the lessons and experiences we’ve learned, and putting them to better use for ourselves and our communities as we age?
As pioneers of the conscious aging process, let’s reframe what it means to get old and claim the beauty, the wisdom, and the honor of aging.
The midlife mind trap slogan is often: “it’s all downhill from here.”
We often fail to recognize the bounty of a long-lived life, when we get fixated on the fear of death. Many of us do not value ourselves or honor our time, and our complacency fails to change society’s approach to age. It is up to us to set the standard for how society views and treats aging people.
Rather than feeling like “it’s all downhill,” my mindset is: “there is no time left to waste.” The new journey for us can become, “how do I age consciously, mindfully, and with intention?”
When I entered my midlife journey, I realized certain relationships no longer nurtured me. I had no patience for mindless conversations and I discovered my new mantra, “whatever is not truth falls away.” Rather than fighting against the reality of aging and feeling morbid, this aging/eldering journey fascinates me. I do not have time for the anti-aging mindset. I do not find it helpful or constructive.
Do we really have time for anything less than an intentional and meaningful aging journey? Does it feel effective to put energy into avoiding the inevitable reality of aging?
I’ve chosen to keep exploring the deep and rich river of conscious eldering. This process is not always sweet smelling roses and easy. Often, aging feels challenging, but it is the journey which my body, mind, and spirit are on.
From the moment we are born, we are all aging. Therefore, what approach would serve us best for our aging process? There is never a better time than the present, so let us celebrate the journey of wisdom we gain through aging, and apply it to our lives and our communities to support a vibrant experience of life. Whether you’re heading up the hill or enjoying the journey down.
Author: Kerry Temple-Wood
Image: elephant journal on Instagram
Editor: Kenni Linden
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman
Social Editor: Travis May