Tag Archives: age

The Mantras of Old Age and Assailment

yoga frog
     I was having a very down day yesterday.  My autoimmune disorders were extreme and many things have slowed to a trickle because I am unable to keep up.
     Was feeling a bit sorry for myself and wondering, at this age, what the future held.
     Life is short and there are no guarantees.   Many of my relatives have already died at ages younger than expected, with different forms of cancer.
     Even my work has been affected, though the odd thing is that business has almost flat-lined of late, anyway, as if the universe thought I needed a break.
     It was never meant to be a one person show, anyway.  Started with a whole family in tow, but now most have gone their own ways.  I’m not sure what the future holds.
     So I rang my hubby at his other workplace, to talk about things for a bit, and as tears ran down my face a very weird (wyrd) thing happened…
     A lot of different birds began to gather and sing in the shrubs and trees backing our rear property line, which I can see from my bedroom window (where I was sitting at the time).
     They were singing en masse, and one kept calling out, as if asking all the other birds to join it.  (The others actually had gathered to the call of that one bird).
     It was so amazing that I went to the window to try to see all those birds, but they were well hidden in the foliage.   All I had was their voices, which were so obviously many different birds.
     The only other time I have heard birds like that, en masse, is when we had a python in our back garden, and they put out a cacophony to let me know so I could move it on.   But the song was different, this time.   It was quite uplifting.
     And then, a mass of crickets began to sing in the garden bed below my bedroom window.  (You have to understand that prior to all this song, the sounds outside were quite normal.   A bit of distant birdsong and some breezes rustling the leaves in the trees).
     It was then that I said to my husband that it was like the divine wanted to cheer me up, and had sent them to ‘knock me on the head‘ with this ‘mini miracle‘.   And once I spoke those words, the bird song and the cricket chorus practically ceased.
     I realized then that it was meant to cease as soon as I understood that it was a ‘message‘.
     It was not a coincidence.   It was something sent to uplift me, and so that I didn’t mistake it for ordinary, it ceased as soon as I understood that.  (And to make it even more clear, none of that happened again for the rest of the day).
     So after I ended the phone call with my hubby, I thought about that for a bit.
     I thought of how things like that happened a lot more in my youth, and so I then thought about being young, fit, and beautiful again, and of course, of how I am none of those things today.
     It was then that I realized that I was not living by my own tenets when it comes to reincarnation or the life of spirit as an inhabitant of the physical avatar of the body.
     I have given over my body and my self to the roleplays of the physical world, because today when I personally talk to others I call myself ‘old’.
     I list off my ailments and add my age to that equation, and then suddenly my world seems full of difficulties, and life seems very short.
     That is in complete opposition to the idea I espouse of being an immortal being who has lived countless incarnations, and who today lives a dichotomous existence within my human body roleplay.
     So I have put aside my own sense of immortality and regeneration, as I continually repeat these ‘mantras of old age’.
     I am not the only one to do this.  I see and hear others who are older do the same thing to themselves, over and over.
     We slot ourselves into the worldly roleplay of an older body living an older and more assailed and fragile life.
     Prior to my current health problems, I decided to use this ‘time out‘ period of my life to reorganize my home and business, to ‘clean up and clean out‘.
     My hubby, mature son and I got stuck into this agenda and achieved much on the first weekend we did it, but our bodies were suffering at the end of that effort.
     What was the first thing we declared?  ‘Oh, I’m getting old.  My body can’t do the things it used to.’
     Yet the fact is that even young people who are super fit and healthy, would struggle to recover at the end of such a large task and effort.
     The difference is not a physical one but a mental one.
     Most younger people tend to take a break when they’re feeling overdone.  Older people have an agenda they’ve set themselves, that they want to complete sooner rather than later because they have a sense of ‘time running out‘.   So they more easily over-extend themselves, and then their bodies find it a lot harder to recover from that over-exertion.
     Younger people may not have that problem because their sense can be of their ‘whole lives ahead of them.’   So they can take a break and feel like they have plenty of time to get back to things, later.
     (I know there are younger people who try to do too much, and then feel a physical rebound and emotional drain, too, but they usually have a greater sense of life ahead of them, still, than older people have to play with).
     So the problem with older people is not actually that they can’t do what they did when they were younger any more.  It is that they are too stubborn and have too much of a sense of lack of time, to give up and come back later.  They no longer ‘work with the flow‘.
     And then, when their bodies complain, and it takes longer than a few days to recover, they think it is because they are ‘old‘, and they think it is because they are ‘more fragile than they used to be‘.  And they declare that to anyone who will listen.
     Under those types of mantras, it is easy to forget the underlying truths of spirit in existence.   And it is easy to feel that your life is ‘not so important in the scheme of things‘, and that perhaps you are more ‘humble and dispensable‘ than you once thought.
     And then, the ‘message‘ came to me that I am not forgotten in the mind of the divine.   I have never been forgotten.   I have always been loved.   Because the divine does not focus on our outer appearance, nor on our physical condition or age.  The divine sees us at our core – into our inner self, and into the glowing spirit that animates us.
     I was ‘told‘ that it was never the divine that abandoned me.  Instead, I abandoned myself.   I gave up on myself.   I slotted myself into a ‘sense of dearth‘, into a feeling of ‘being compromised‘, and into a ‘lack of hope’.
     My body may be older, now, and my health is genetically disposed to disorder, but that does not mean I have to stop enjoying life and engaging with it.
     The body naturally dies, in time, but the spirit never has to.
     When my body dies, my spirit will reincarnate – that is my belief.   Yet I have overshadowed my spirit with the thought of endings, and of being ‘stuck‘.
     Every moment we are alive, we have the choice to savor life.
     Savoring life is not dependent on what is happening to our bodies, or on the outside influences we have no control over.
     Savoring life is an exercise of the mind and spirit, and is what brings a sense of connection with the divine into our mundane reality, as we realize just what miraculous beauty we are embedded in.
     My body is still inflamed today, but my attitudes have changed.   I am working with instead of going against ‘the flow‘.
     When my hubby came home last night, he had another story to tell, of a younger workmate he often meets with, who was overburdened by the pressures his boss had put upon him to meet a deadline.
     This younger man was feeling exhausted and assailed.  He felt under pressure to perform, but he was already giving his best.
     So my hubby passed on the sage advice that I had once given to him – to acknowledge the skills he has, to realize that he is already doing his best and that his boss actually does know that.   And to understand that even though the boss is under pressure from his own superiors to achieve a deadline, it is not in his best interest to push himself until he ails, and it is not in the best interest of his workplace for him to get sick.
     It is far better for him to maintain integrity and be whole, and to keep believing in himself, and then, as long as he serves well, that is the best that can be expected, so he can pull back a little, be easier on himself, and ‘go with the flow‘.
     The younger man left the discourse with my hubby in a lighter frame of mind.  And I was reminded of how often I give such advice to others, and yet find it hard to take it for myself…
     So, now I will choose to ride the quiet moments and not give up hope that the tide will change.   For if things were once faster and more intense, they will come to that phase again.   All I need to do is wait the current phases out.
     I obviously needed a break, anyway.
     For me, our bodies never die until the moment they are meant to.  What we forget is that our minds can override our spirit so that it can seem to die long before our bodies end.
     It all depends on what we focus on – the body, or the spirit.
     Without the spirit animating it, the body is nothing.  That is ‘zombie‘ living.  So why would we want to override the spirit with such a focus on our bodies, alone?  Why keep repeating those mantras of ill health, age, and assailment, that smother the spirit?
     With my family history, I am already older than many of my relatives were when they died, and edging toward the end date of some others.
     Some of them focused so much effort on their bodies, trying to extend the length of their lives and to fight off physical assailments, but what they did could not stop that end date.
     I do have a greater sense, now, of the need to capitalize on my own life, not necessarily for prosperity but for getting full value out of it by enjoying every moment I have as completely as I can.
     By whatever time I go, I hope that I will have lived a meaningful life until that end, filled with full appreciation of my moments.
     I am therefore thankful for this necessary wake up call.
And grateful that I can recognize those signs and omens by which the divine calls to us, that say I am still connected, and I am ever beloved.

Old Books

Photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net
Photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net

I loved books as a child, so much so that at every gift giving occasion my family would give me books. That was nice until I saw my sister getting dolls and other nice stuff to play with. I felt I was missing out and I let my mother know it.

The next gift giving occasion, I received a doll. I loved her beautiful blonde hair that was just like mine but quickly found some scissors and cut it short, as mine was styled (a la the actress, Mia Farrow, my mother said). My mother didn’t say anything. She knew I did it to make the doll more like me.

Despite loving the doll, it was soon put aside for my books. I wasn’t really a girl who played with toys much. It was getting my head into a book, drawing on the white paper my Nanna collected for me from the butcher, or going on grand imagined adventures in the world outside that pushed my buttons.

My love for books continued as I grew older. My mother learned to speed read in my early teens and taught me how to do it. We had already been churning over the library with an armful of books each week. Speed reading meant a book a day, so we got through a lot but in the end we had to re-learn how to slow down. By speed reading, we got the information in but did not get lost so well in the imaginary worlds the authors’ created. It took the fun out of reading.

I was once a great fan of romance novels – not the modern ones or ‘Mills and Boon’ types but the old fashioned stories that came from authors like Georgette Heyer or the Bronte sisters. It was a shock to me when I met my future husband, to learn that being feisty and slapping his face when he was not being nice was not as acceptable as those stories proclaimed.

In later years, I learned of studies that showed that romance novels were the thinking woman’s soft porn. I thought I agreed with that, considering how randy they made me feel, but then concluded that if they were soft porn they had a very frustrating result in my day and age. Men just didn’t live up to those suave, passionate and seductive standards. The hippy revolution brought about a society that was all about getting it on, right now, not romancing a woman until she was ready for action – and if a man was surly with you, he was just surly not sultry. If I asked my boyfriend what he had on his mind when he looked at me through half closed lids, it wasn’t that he wanted to get me into bed, it was that I’d said or done something he didn’t like. So unless I wanted an argument, I didn’t go there…

As a young woman, I started reading thick tomes of fantasy adventure novels. Each time a new series would come out, I’d end up buying every one. I loved fantasy adventure novels and science fiction best. I churned through two to three inch thick tomes in a couple of days. It was my escape from the world.

Because I hadn’t finished high school when I met my future husband and then ran away from home with him, I went back to finish my schooling as an adult, after my kids had birthed. Then, in English class, I re-associated myself with my love of writing and all my earlier forays into it as a child came back. I’d earned awards at school in earlier years for my writing, and I’d had some poetry and short stories published in magazines. So this renewed interest spurred me to write my own novel.

I’d become a freelance actor before going back to school and had already established my own amateur theater group by then, which I’d written some plays for, so writing a novel was just another step on my creative path.

By that time, my reading included scripts for my acting work and reviewing new plays for the theater group I founded. I was reading less and less for pleasure and more and more for purpose, albeit expressive and creative purpose.

Although I was still reading those, something changed once I began writing my novel. I found it extremely hard to pick up my fantasy adventure books and read them. I still bought them but they sat on my shelf waiting for me to read because every time I began reading I kept thinking of the novel I was supposed to be writing, and thought that I would be better investing my time and energy in that rather than in the depths of someone else’s book.

My long and deep association with reading the written word in novels pretty much came to a halt, then. Is that sacrilegious? Some would say so.

It’s not that I never read again. I have read the occasional book since but my life was so much more focused on expression rather than receiving after that. I was extremely busy expressing myself, in work, through creative endeavors, and in relationships. I didn’t have time to read, other than newspapers, magazines, and for information.

I never actually finished writing that novel. It got almost completely written but was redone and reworked over and over for many years until real life got in the way. It’s been some time since I got back to it. It still sits in the recesses of my mind, not even as just one book but as a series of novels… maybe for another lifetime, now.

The last time I read a book of fiction from cover to cover in recent years was when I was stuck on a ship for three weeks with a companion who didn’t want to leave the cabin much. The television didn’t have anything to watch on it, so I read the novel I had put in my bag for a ‘just in case’ situation. I was lucky to have had that book but since I got off the boat I still haven’t read another.

I don’t know what it is. It’s strange when I remember how many I went through in my younger years. Perhaps it is because life is so very busy and so very creative in so many other ways, I don’t need to escape any more. I have so much going on in my own mind, I don’t need other people’s stories to uplift me. Plus, when I read what they write, I often find myself reading the words that already sit in my head.

I still love books, though. I still like to have them around, and all that I read is still embedded in the grey cells, somewhere.

One of the first books I got a sense of being greater than its content was a small bible I had been given by missionaries visiting my school when I was a child. It had golden edges to the pages that shined in the sunlight, and the delicately thin pages were a delight to turn. They reminded me of the tissue paper pages between the sepia photos stuck onto the cushy thick paper of my unmarried Aunt’s family photo album, with a padded velvet black cat on the cover that I liked to run my fingers over as a child.

While I am no longer a christian, today, I still appreciate the feel of that bible. It was the first time I knew a book not by its words but by its cover. I loved the soft leather that held those wafer thin pages together, too. The minister of the church my mother went to had a larger version of that bible that he carried around almost everywhere he went. I was asked to read from his bible during one Sunday meeting. It was lovely to stand at the podium and read from this beautiful book with its red silk marker dangling at the side.

The words of the bible never really got into me as they did in my sister and others, though. I felt that most of it was a history or a genealogy, and it was hard to read. I don’t like books that are hard to read. That’s why I never made it all the way through J.R.R. Tolkein’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ series, and had to wait until they made it into movies before I truly got hooked. I suppose that’s why books like the bible need translators and interpreters like ministers, priests, and nuns. Like Buddha, I’m not a fan of second-hand interpretation. I like to assess things for myself.

My adoptive father’s family home had shelves of old books with tooled leather-like covers. I liked to take them off the shelves and try to read them as a child but many were difficult to process. The language and the grammar were different to that used in my world and the pages were stained and musty.

I have to say I was not a fan of old books. I hated that smell. I hated the old, neglected feeling that came from them, as if they had been finished with so long ago and just sat there waiting for something good to happen, and it never did… and by the time I came along, it was all too late – they had grown old and spotty, and stank.

Sounds harsh, I know. Actually, there were some that I did perservere with, like the stories of Robin Hood, Shakespeare’s poetry, or William Wordsworth and his daffodils… The words were enjoyable when I got to them. I just didn’t like the feel and smell of old books – the inside pages, anyway.

The outside of the books were different. It was the outside of old books that inspired my imagination best. I loved the years of handling that had roughed their covers, the years of body oil embedding in their imitation leather, the fraying and the tatting, and abrading of gold or silver tooling… I delighted in that.

I would much rather look at a whole book case of old books from the outside, (though they do beg to be picked up for at least a peek inside). For me, old books are to be cherished for what they are as a whole, rather than for just what is in between their covers.

I would much rather read the information that old books have in a newly printed form… but as an artwork, old books say it for me. I am sensually invested in old books.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. Well, I do. In this case, the cover is its history. It’s the way it has lived in this world.

People can be like that. If you think of a person’s life as being the pages of a book, over time the activities and memories of the past get blotchy and spotted, faded and yellowed, no matter how important or delightful their content once was. With much of the past no longer aired, these inner histories become stale and musty… but the outside of their book is more beautiful as it ages. It becomes an artwork. It is the archaeological sum of their life. Fascinating.

Today, I am renewing my interest in the written word, that comes between a cover. (I’m still getting my head around e-books). I’m really enjoying exploring the ideas and imagination of other writers, again, and especially reliving the metaphysical information I learnt so long ago, now expressed with new vision by modern authors.

While I prefer to read current reprints than the inside pages of musty old books, the technological media of today does not have the pages I enjoyed turning long ago. Modern paperbacks and e-books don’t have the sensuality of old books with their hard or leather covers, either. It’s all about the content and not about the art or its mellowing.

I do miss that.


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