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An Aging Elder

I woke up this morning with more aches than a porcupine has quills. (OK, a slight exaggeration here). My knee, back and shoulder all were seeing who could scream the loudest for my brains’ distracted attention. Aging and Elderhood, encroaching personal entropy and joyful evolving consciousness. What a juxtaposition!

An Aging ElderWhile I am extremely grateful for entering conscious Elderhood, I am very aware that my body is slowly running down. I was talking to a friend about running recently and he said, “The older I get, the faster I was.” So true. I was reading recently that the best hope for the world was that more people worldwide were living past 50. However, it has also been noted that civilization often advances one death at a time. Enough already – I’m confusing me!

I think it is no longer enough to just get older, even though it’s true that old age is not for sissies! We also can choose to become Elders, and our journey to Elderhood begins in adulthood. I have written about Signs of Elderhood in an earlier post. If you want to become an elder, you have to begin to wake up, grow up and clean up in adulthood. Briefly, cleaning up, in addition to eating healthier and exercising more, usually involves embracing some form of depth work in psychotherapy to heal wounds from the past. Waking up means realizing you need to move beyond dogma of all stripes and become a seeker of what IS and your true nature. Growing up means a willingness to recognize and move through actual developmental stages that we have become aware of in the last hundred years.

This work may be very challenging as you transcend and include the mainstays of your culture. All of this is necessary to be able to show up as an Elder and not just an old person. Gratefully, when you choose to enter conscious Elderhood, there is much more to life than aches and pains!

John Mariner

Martin Luther King: Reflections from an Integral Elder

I was 27 when Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered in 1968 at the age of 39. Integral consciousness was mostly latent at that time, both in me and in the world. He was a harbinger of that consciousness. His “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington D.C. was prophetic of an integral world, even though that dream is not yet fully realized in 2019.

Martin Luther King: Reflections from an Integral ElderMy adopted daughter is primarily African American. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy and that of President Barack Obama are directly responsible for the evolving Integral world she is embracing wholeheartedly today. At 21 years old, she is a junior in college and active in politics, working to support women becoming elected to public office. Her amazing future is possible because no one, “trumpet” as they might, can destroy the scaffolding that these great American leaders have laid down.

On this great American holiday celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, I am deeply grateful.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Our Collective Dark Night

“In the embers of our religions, let us bow our heads and pray, may the lights in the land of plenty, shine on the truth…some day”
Leonard Cohen

Make no mistake. This is a very dark night of the soul of this country, this America. Perhaps the darkest night since the years preceding and during the Civil War. The very foundations of our democracy are being shaken.

And what are those quaking pillars?

First of all, the rule of law. Might makes right rears its ugly head again, this time in the form of whoever has the most money and can lay claim to being the whitest. Not new of course, but seldom so course and foul. Second, the knowledge gained from science dismissed and disregarded. Third, the hard won gains from the Civil Rights movement and the other freedom movements from the 1960’s on. Dismantle the rule of law, dismiss the findings of science, and disparage the freedom movements, and we are in danger of descending back into the Dark Ages, before law, before science and before freedom began to become real for more and more people.

Before the Magna Carta, king wanna-bes like Trump ruled by absolute right, and no one could question or challenge them. The Magna Carta ended the “divine right” of kings to do whatever they pleased and began the traditional role of law that has been fundamental in democracies the world over. Modern Science began to supplant magical and mythical attempts to explain the world. In the 1960’s, the freedom movements for civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights flowered and gained traction.

Our Collective Dark NightAt this Winter “looks within” time, let us give thanks for all of the structures of consciousness and culture that are currently under fire. Let us fight for the best of all of them, the best of all that we inhabit in this country and are our brightest beacons in these challenging days. Law, science and expanded freedoms, all lit up in our developing Evolutionary consciousness, the best of our common humanity, and all worth fighting for!

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

A Letter to the Younger Progressives from the Elders

There are three ways to approach the mystery of the divine.
The first practice is prayer.
The second is meditation.
And the third and most important is conversation.”
Rumi

Dear Youngers,

We are so glad, so grateful for all of you and for all that you do! You are deeply inspired by one of us as we are inspired by you. I am Bernie Sanders’s age and went to school in Brooklyn and ran track the same years he did. More importantly, he never gave up on taking action on his deeply held human values; neither did I, and neither did many of us of his generation. And now, more than ever, we need each other, the Elders and the Youngers of this world. Let us begin a powerful, loving and essential conversation about working together for a better world.

A Letter to the Younger Progressives from the Elders
It is not always easy for Youngers and Elders to have meaningful conversations. In many ways, we inhabit different life-worlds. The tasks and challenges we face in our daily lives are “ages” apart. And too often we do not deeply respect one another. Ageism is a reality in our times as is a terrible and callous disregard for the needs of the young. Even though we share progressive values, that in itself is not enough. We need to bring our different skills and different kinds of wisdom together to bring into existence the better world we seek.

We need you, and you need us to bring about a better world! As Elders and not just older people, we are future-oriented and care more about you, our Youngers, than we do about ourselves! In our long lives, some of us have done a lot of work to become Elders and not fossils. We are growing into Elderhood even as you are growing into Adulthood. Elderhood, probably beginning around fifty five or sixty, is an amazing and wonderful place, not at all clearly seen by the culture at this time and gradually being embraced by a small but growing number of older people. It offers great hope not only to those who embark on this journey, but also to a world starving for authentic wisdom. As it is challenging for you to become adults, it is often daunting for us to become elders. But what we have in common is a willingness to keep growing, a concern for the betterment of this world and a realization of the importance of our ongoing conversations across the artificial divide that no longer has the power to separate us.

Thank you.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

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