A Warrior knows by walking slowly, he becomes aware of the firmness of his step. He knows that he is taking part in a decisive moment in the history of humanity and that he needs to change himself before he can transform the world. --Paulo Coelho, Warrior of the Light.
Today we live in a culture that places a high value on youth while it dismisses elders and the gifts they can bring to the table. As an elder it becomes easy to live by these ageist beliefs when we accept our diminishing roles and responsibilities. It is easy to fall into ruminating over the ageist stereotypes of our culture. We become fearful of ageing. We expect our health to decline, our physical abilities and our mind to fail us. Researchers say these negative beliefs can have a great impact on longevity, vitality, and aliveness for living. If we believe ageing is a time of decline, marginalization and loneliness, we will fulfill these beliefs. What if we saw a new vision for ageing? What if we replaced feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness with courage, passion, self-awareness and purpose? What if we rejected the roles defined by our culture for older people and started to participate in new ways? What if we create a new vision for ageing?
Recently I read Warrior of Light by Paulo Coelho. It is a book written for those who wish to challenge themselves to a higher existence. Coelho's uses the warrior as a metaphor not for those who wish to serve with dominance, but for those in pursuit of their dreams. The term warrior brings images of courage, personal power, confidence, accomplishments, integrity, honor and wisdom. Unlike the warrior the soldier is trained to follow orders and ignore inner wisdom. A warrior listens to and knows the power of following her inner wisdom. She is independent. A warrior takes responsibility for all of her choices and actions because she listens to inner guidance even when it is against the order. A warrior is someone who has acquired experience, knowledge, skills and wisdom; an elder.
Our new vision for ageing could be as elder warriors. With purpose, self-discovery and self-mastery we have the ability to be defenders and protectors for what we love. We have compassion by acknowledging our own suffering, giving us the ability to tend to the suffering of others. As elders we have important roles and responsibilities, even though we live in a culture that values youth and marginalizes older people, we can create our own vision. We have more time and freedom than any other time in our adult life. We can participate in life in ways that reflect our values and beliefs. We no longer have to be soldiers trained to follow orders. It is an exciting time to be an elder leading our world to a kinder more gentle place to live.Let’s spend some time together walking slowly toward self-awareness, self-reflection and self-mastery as a way to prepare for our elder warrior role. We can ditch conventional beliefs about retirement being a time to settle down. This is a time instead to answer Mary Oliver’s question: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”