When it comes to the way we age are we not our own worst enemies? Most references, in western society’s lexicon describing ageing, are skewed towards the idea of breakdown, decay and dependency . This is not a very secure foothold on one’s future. I feel that the way we talk sets us on certain pathways of expectation and expectation is a powerful force in our lives is it not?
Anne Karpf writes in her book “How to Age”, that the best way to age well is to be prepared to throw overboard ideas which, whilst being extremely useful in one part of life, are much less so, as we enter each new life phase. This is in part due to the changing demands of roles, situations and circumstances and also to the ‘getting of wisdom’ that comes with maturity.
This shedding of old narratives is not an easy process as it involves shedding aspects of one’s personal history, much in the way a snake sheds its skin. As we age, we are not well served by being weighed down by redundant aspects of self-identity. We are not static beings.
People tend to hold fast to the known and familiar and are apprehensive of any new, fresh unfolding, as it is by its very nature, unknown. I find the snake a worthwhile role model and snakes have often been present in my nocturnal dreams, harbingers of periods of substantial change in my life. When I dream about snakes I am invariably on the edge of my inner river of change. I prepare to shed old aspects of self, to allow in the greater breadth and depth of vision and being, required to engage the next part of the journey.
Notably and challengingly, one may age more gracefully and in lighter fashion by surrendering the insistence of being in control of this unfolding process of life. Grappling with such a surrender is the reason many people seek counsel. Letting go of control doesn’t appear to come naturally.
The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu was way ahead of us:
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be’.
Michael Finn is a Counsellor and Psychotherapist offering one-on-one sessions and couples therapy.
Appointments are available Mon & Fri at Bardon Counselling & Natural Therapy Centre and Tue, Wed & Sat at Osteopathy on James in New Farm, Brisbane.