There is something that distinguishes elders from those that are merely older. To me, this distinction is important, because I think it has a lot to do with the state of old people in this culture. Gray folks are treated like human refuse, when in fact, they embody what appears to me to be a central miracle of Life. The old ones, when they have escaped the de-humanizing clutch of the market place, are the fullest embodiment of Nature’s intentions for we humans.
I am referring to the organic shift inwards that takes place in old age. For those that already have an inner life (which some develop much younger) the transition to elderhood is much easier, than for those who have assiduously avoided the challenges associated with “inner” disturbances. Journeying through the looking glass, into a new, more inner-defined life is still hard. It is nearly impossible to those who have learned to sidestep inner stirrings. The difficulties of metamorphosis are significant, becoming a wiser gray being is daunting, especially to those who have avoided the light within, out of fear of the darkness.
The drive for economic viability, for a favorable place in the herd, for fitting in to a dysfunctional system, makes looking within rare. The developmental tendency to look outside for cues about how to be — is hard to give up. The psychic cost of clinging too long to that strategy, is a reduction of confidence in the internal changes that accompany old age. When wrinkles and gray hair appear, interior alterations begin. For most, this natural flux is an exacting transition. Nature stimulates a shift that throws many people off.
Some refuse to adjust. For them, old age is a series of humiliating and undesirable insults. But for those with an inner life, or who are willing to develop one, the acquisition of in-sight is especially delightful. The winds of change are at one’s back. Nature assists, and Life becomes something else, something unexpected. A ripening occurs, and a fresh set of possibilities, arise.
This brings one to the turning point. The tide turns, and living becomes more miraculous, and more assuring, when the stirring within is linked to larger processes of Life. The Earth turns on its axis. Human life also turns on an axis. Each are oriented by Nature, and in the case of a minority of humans (elders), happiness follows.
Elder life can be the most fulfilling part of existing. It is the era when one becomes fully. The gratification of completeness, of being in the flow, of becoming entirely oneself, of being desired by the Universe, is so satisfying that it should be known. Our kind could relax.
Being carried along, by the tide, is a heart-opening experience. It puts to rest all haunting uncertainties. The specter of not fitting in, of not having a home, of being born a mistake, goes away. Belonging is an organic reality. Life knows what it is doing, and elderhood is everyone’s proof.
The tide is turning — old people cannot help manifesting this important fact of existence. Culture prepares us badly — but Nature corrects anyway. Getting old is a chance to notice this from the inside out. The tide turns.