Rain drops drip, drip, splash, plummet earthward soaking into a rotten hollow log covered with lichen and mushrooms. The huge log is quietly decaying on the forest floor. No one notices. The carpenter ants have long since lost interest. Its hollows are too moist, now, for cozy dens for gray foxes or chipmunks. On its north side, a plush covering of luxurious green moss. It’s impossible not to reach out and run the palm of my hand over it, my fingers tickling the softest, greenest gift that nature has to offer me on this dark, rainy equinox morning.
Recently a friend emailed me that she noticed, the other evening while at a holiday gathering, that our friends are getting “long in the tooth.” This gave me pause with a not-so-wonderful feeling, as if I were an old nag about to be sent to the glue factory. At the same time, I have been listening to a number of different interviews with wise thinkers of our time on the topic of aging. I am only 56, but I like to consider what may be coming down the road in my life.
More and more, I strongly feel that we need to learn how to become “elders” as we age—not “olders.” As in how the elders of many indigenous tribes become wise leaders, seers, and guides.
The world needs us—all of us—desperately, right now. So we should resist falling into the box put around older people, and we should also resist the negative language that abounds about the experience of growing older. We should resist ageism.
As we age, we need to access our power as elders, and our beauty.
We have wisdom. We have big picture thinking and understanding. We have history and experience.
So, hear this: My “longer” teeth are for speaking, and biting into problems and chewing them up. Heh heh.
I will strive for good health for as long as possible. I will strive not to be doddering about, mindless and diminished, in calf-socks and orthotic sneakers, devoid of purpose and relegated to a TV. I won’t be marginalized.
I’ll wear beautiful dresses, glitter, ribbons and feathers in my hair. I’ll stand as tall as I am able. I’ll be fiercely kind. I’ll keep singing what matters. I’ll keep making a difference, no matter how small, for goodness, love, and a better world. I will become an elder.
It just found me
old state forest
tall wise trees.
large tidal river running.
silvery trunks so straight and smooth
leaves rattle and sigh.
Field of tall grasses
splashes of wildflowers
wearing summer cap.
We start to climb
a long hill but
Saw-teeth and tread roll
out the wide wheels
groaning and whining
Where are we climbing to?