I have been thinking about the process of growing older for a long time. In my 30s, I discovered I had all sorts of stereotypes about old people (which for me at that age was anyone over 60) and that most of my notions were just plain wrong. For example, I learned though conversations with a number of older friends that most people aren’t afraid to die after a certain point—but they are afraid to die without having left a mark or without having been able to pass on their life’s experience
OR "You Can Never Get Enough of What You Don’t Want"
By Charles E. Smith |Bio
A man is sitting in a bar having a beer,
eating cashews and at peace with the world. A pretty woman sits next to
him. He buys her a drink and after a bit she promises him that he can
have whatever he wants, which is usually what he is not getting at the
moment in relationship or what he is getting that he wishes he didn’t
have. He gets interested and then someone
By Shae Hadden | BioOne of my New Year traditions is to clean up some of the papers that have accumulated around me over the past year. Yesterday, I came across these “Facts of Life” that someone had given me and thought they were worth sharing. Unlike the ‘facts of life’ we normally think about (like ‘the birds and the bees’, death and taxes), these seem fitting for the beginning of a new year, especially since they actually challenge us to look at ourselves and others in a whole new way.
- We are human beings.
- We make assessments of ourselves and others.
- These assessments are usually more or less grounded, but they are never ‘true’.
- We live
I have been thinking a lot about my body. In my work, the body is a key to learning anything. Unless we ‘embody’ new distinctions, we continue to operate inside our habitual worldview and way of being—‘inside the box’. What I can see is that my conversation about my body, like all my conversations needs to change as I grow older. If I attempt to apply the same concepts and tools I learned and used as a young man to deal with who I am today, including my body, then I am going to be trapped
I just finished leading the first week of a course by the same name as today’s blog. It is a pilot program designed to facilitate and accelerate the transfer of leadership from one generation to the next. Most large organizations and institutions are confronting an unprecedented turnover of executives and managers primarily due to the wave of Boomer retirements. This is not just a personnel problem—it is also a strategic concern because how well we prepare the next generation to take the reins
Life happens while we’re having conversations with ourselves and other people.
Listening is the context that makes life intelligible, allows anything to have meaning, and forms the basis for all communication (both written and spoken). It’s a whole lot more than just ‘hearing’ the words that are spoken. It’s about listening with an open mind, listening without already having an answer, listening to the person and noticing what they are not
By Kay Costley-WhiteThe most joyful person I have ever met was a young man dying of AIDS. Chris’s path to serenity had been long and difficult. In the early 1990s, his family, afraid of their community’s reaction to his gay lifestyle, rejected him. He moved from central Canada to Vancouver, developed a family of choice, and lived with a partner committed to a life-long relationship. But his partner and many of his friends died of AIDS. Then his place of employment found out the reason for his many absences for sick leave, and he was fired on the spot. Later, life-threatening infections kept him in hospital, too weak to care for himself. When I knew him, he understood that there was no hope for a cure or prolongation of his life. Medicine could do nothing beyond keeping him comfortable, and he was facing his imminent death. But
the healing of who he was as a person—his mind, emotions and
spirit—induced people to visit his room to get a taste of his radiance.
How could someone with such losses possibly be joyful? How had Chris got to this place of profound personal healing in the face of death? Did he have some strong religious faith to sustain him through his dark hours? It appeared that he had opened to the anguish that can be a part of living, totally surrendered to his personal chaos, and eventually emerged beyond its confines. Witnesses to such a deep process are often left with healing of their own, a sort of ripple effect that produces a feeling of abundance in loved ones and professional caregivers alike. You may ask, “What does this have to do with me—I’m still healthy and active?” While most people don’t aspire to the transcendence Chris demonstrated, we can all prepare ourselves to face our dying. We can explore our fear, participate in therapies to help us face the horror of final goodbyes, and find technologies to help us reach forgiveness. Employing these strategies requires courage and a certain tolerance for the unknown. But the process releases energy, and we may find that the degree of our readiness for death is directly related to the quality of our lives now. Chris showed us that opening to the full meaning of dying can enrich our experience of living. In demonstrating joy, serenity and gratitude in the face of death, he was an inspiration to the humanity in each of us, a source of hope for the growth of the human spirit.
I visited my Mother this week. She is 87 and not well. A lifetime of smoking has caught up with her and she is fighting emphysema every day. For the first time in a while, I came face to face with the reality that she is dying. Her comment to me is that “I don’t mind dying but don’t like dying this way”. These thoughts aren’t about not smoking, although as an ex-smoker, it is remarkable how that addiction can warp our judgment. My mother continues smoking to this day—now protesting
During the five months I’ve been blogging, I’ve spoken with more than a hundred people in their 50s and older about their experience and views on aging. The resounding consensus is that life is great and getting better all the time. It seems to me this is indicative of a real transformation underway: instead of growing older being a story of ‘decline’, a couple of generations are starting to declare that the 2nd half of life might be the best half.
Here are a few of the common themes from
I am thinking about all the things older people told me over the
years—don’t worry, relax, smell the roses, live life in the moment,
learn from your mistakes, and, above all, love other people and
yourself. Much of my life hasn’t been spent practicing these gems from
my predecessors. It’s been about struggling to do it right, doing it my
way, resisting anything I didn’t like, and (in one way or another)
controlling myself and other people.
when it appeared, was like a fleeting