As we age, many of us believe we are no longer capable of making a difference, or that focusing only on ourselves after a lifetime of hard work is our much-deserved primary goal. We think we are serving ourselves, but we are actually diminishing ourselves. Rather than just grow old, you can choose to age with awareness and intention. From Conscious Living, Conscious Aging.
I know many people in their late fifties, sixties, seventies, and even eighties who lead very active lifestyles. Many of them are retired; some retired well before the standard retirement age of sixty-five. I so often hear them say, in one way or other, that they do this sporting activity or that volunteer work in order to “have something to do, something to keep busy.” This is such a contrast to those who come to conscious eldering retreats and workshops who speak of their passion for making a difference, and having their lives be an expression of a deep (although often ill-defined) sense of calling. There is a big difference between filling time and trying to live one’s precious elderhood with as much purpose and passion as possible. I realize that when I write about such distinctions, I run the risk of appearing—even being—judgmental. My dedication to conscious eldering is a commitment to helping increase awareness of a new, more empowering, purposeful, intentional, and passion-driven vision of what our elder years can be. An increasing number of people in their late fifties and beyond resonate with this way of life, but I honor those who do not embrace this vision. I strive to increase their awareness of what is possible. How to age is a choice. My goal is to help others see that we do have choice in our aging and that our choices have consequences for ourselves and for our descendants, who will look back upon us as their ancestors and wonder what we did to help assure a healthy world for them.
Becoming increasingly conscious of what we can contribute, of that place where the world’s needs best intersect with our deepest, passion-filled calling, is a primary goal of the journey of conscious eldering. It’s not the only goal, but the more conscious we become, the more we realize that it is necessary for the fulfillment of our other goals. We see that our inner peace and continuing growth cannot be accomplished in isolation. Our well-being is inextricably linked to the well-being of the larger community. Becoming conscious of our inner guidance and what it shows us about how we can best serve as elders is a result of the inner work detailed in this book.