Some cultures have Elders, in mine we have The Elderly.
The word ELDER, evokes respect, reverence even. It speaks to wisdom earned from an entire lifetime; a confidence and a stillness. While ELDERLY, conjures up a images of frailty and dependence; sickness even.
Being a woman of 33, with two small children, I'm in the prime of my motherhood years, and as such I am very preoccupied with everything pregnancy, birth and babies. I'm thinking about arrivals, firsts, and growth. I've been swimming in the transition to motherhood mark II; contemplating, reflecting and unfolding through the teachings of this immense rite of passage. Forget Mother of Dragons. Mother of HUMANS... oh me, oh my! So much juicy material for the soul to work with!
It was a profoundly moving moment for me when I recently found myself contemplating Menopause; imagining what rich treasures this rite may hold. This avenue of thought was prompted by the work of a couple of powerful, creative and visionary women from the Pacific North West. Bronwyn and Annagrace of Vivid Menopause. They speak to this rite in very positive, evocative terms. I'm very moved, delighted and surprised to hear this as I had typically heard only of the negative symptoms: the sweats, the mood swings, the nagging discomforts that go on for YEARS. Honestly I was NOT looking forward to it, in the way that many women fear childbirth, I was fearful of menopause. But reading the articles and perspectives of diverse voices on the blog at Vivid Menopause, has me excited for this stage.
I wonder what I will be like in 30 years, a 63 entering my wisdom years. I'd love to age in my power, filled with self love and respect. I think I'll need a healthy dose of not giving a *shit* what society may think of me. I'll embrace my wrinkles, my crumpled tattoos, my hairy arm pits and legs. I will not bow to the pressures of the beauty standard, because that is just not me anyway. I hope to ripen in my wisdom, be calmer and more grounded than ever before and I hope that my grand kids, if my boys ever decide to have children, will want to hear my perspectives on life.
It's ironic that I am only just, now, contemplating elderhood, as my three remaining grandparents (the grandparents I grew up with) have all died in the last 4 months. My Grandfather, as recently as today. Amongst the grief there is relief (as quality of life was not what anyone would have wanted to endure) but I also feel a surge of regret, that I don't quite know what to do with. I honestly didn't think of them as "my ELDERS" in that way. Now I regret that I didn't spend enough time discussing the big things with them, gleaning their wisdom, and upholding them with the deepest respect and honour deserving of a lifetime of some 88, 89, 94 years of life.
Maybe it's the grief talking. Maybe I was too influenced by our cultures perspective of old folks. Maybe I was just too preoccupied with my own young family to dig in as deep with my grandparents as I would have liked. Either way, I'll take this teaching forward. My perspective has shifted and I won't ever want to go back to calling my Elders, "the elderly".
NOTE:: I strongly encourage you to take a look at the work of Vivid Menopause, whether or not you are a woman, because I'm sure you are in close relationship with many. It's a refreshing look at aging in your power and the movement towards embracing yourself in all life stages is truly empowering and something we can all learn from.