Age and Spirit
Excerpt from Daily Cures, Wisdom for Healthy Aging by Connie Mason Michaelis
19th-century philosopher, George Santayana, said, “Nothing is inherently and invincibly young except spirit. And spirit can enter a human being perhaps better in the quiet of old age and dwell there more undisturbed than in the turmoil of adventure.” What a beautiful thought, and perhaps it represents one of the benefits of older age. Although we struggle against the loss of strength and activity, we may lose sight of the benefit of a quieter life. Spirit can flourish when it does not compete with the rat race. Old age is a time to be celebrated as much as any other time in the full cycle of life, and it’s a time when we can find deep self-fulfillment and happiness.
Historically, the elders of society functioned as transmitters of sacred knowledge and rituals. They established an awareness of the culture and roots that are necessary for the health and growth of the community. With the increased population of older adults, the role of an elder in society should be expanded to enrich and give meaning to the lives of all people, young and old. Who is the Sage, the Crone, the Chieftain, or the Wiseman? By their very definitions, they are seasoned by age, steeped in wisdom and, most of all, spiritually grounded. Plato, who lived to be 80, observed that “Old age has a great sense of calm and freedom.” If that is the case, then we should all be eager to arrive there! For many people, it’s the first time in their lives that they have the chance to live without being burdened by the expectations of others. The body may decline and ultimately pass away, but the spirit is alive and flourishing forever. If you ask me, our culture needs the balance the elder population brings to the table.