Aging  Forward

 

None of us really think that we truly will see the days when what we look back on is farther than what we instinctively know we have ahead of us.  How did that happen?  What does aging forward mean?

 

How are we aging forward in such a way as to honor where we’ve come and can be gloriously open to our next steps on this difficult but grand terrain we call life?

 

It’s incredible but when I look back on my more than half a century of life as a child, girl, adolescent, young woman, wife and career woman; there was no way that I had any image of what might be my path in life. When I think of aging and its journey, I think of this delightful poem by Antonio Machado (1875-1939), the great poet of the Spanish Civil War, who says…

Antonio Machado: Traveler, There Is No Path

Everything passes on and everything remains,
But our lot is to pass on,
To go on making paths,
Paths across the sea.

I never sought glory,
Nor to leave my song
In the memory of man;
I love those subtle worlds,
Weightless and graceful,
As bubbles of soap.

I like to watch as they paint themselves
In sunlight and scarlet, floating
Beneath the blue sky, trembling
Suddenly then popping…

I never sought glory.

Traveler, your footprints
Are the path and nothing more;
Traveler, there is no path,
The path is made by walking.

By walking the path is made
And when you look back
You’ll see a road
Never to be trodden again.

Traveler, there is no path,
Only trails across the sea…

Sometime past in that place
Where today the forests are dressed in barbs
A poet was heard to cry
“Traveler, there is no path,
The path is made by walking…”

Beat by beat, verse by verse…

The poet died far from home.
He lies beneath the dust of a neighboring land.
As he walked away he was seen to weep.
“Traveler, there is no path,
The path is made by walking…”

Beat by beat, verse by verse…

When the goldfinch cannot sing,
When the poet is a pilgrim,
When prayer will do us no good.
“Traveler, there is no path,
The path is made by walking…”

Beat by beat, verse by verse.

When I first heard this poem at a weekend workshop held by David Whyte, an English/Irish poet, I had to catch my breath.

“This is exactly how I had felt my life journey was, a path made by walking.”

 

Looking back, my life revealed a series of path-making footsteps, beginning as early as the age of seven.  I remembered an incident then where I decided that I could not follow either of the paths of my mother or father, their footsteps were not my feet.   How could I have known then the paths that this choice offered me?

 

My footsteps from then on were not easy ones. The first choice led to the next choice… that I didn’t see any of my classmates’ footsteps as ones I could follow either, so I found myself alone.

 

I wish I could say that I had the gift of words to become a poet, however that was not the path I walked.   I chose the path of educator who moved from the west, to the mid-west and now east where I feel I’m more at home in the world. I have a few places in my life where I truly made a difference in the lives of others. The 2016 election made me more aware of my truths as well as truths of our country called the United States of America.  I’ve written poems and have a website. My husband says I’ve been marvelous as a woman who can re-invent herself, and yes, that is also one of my truths.

 

 What I’ve found is that as a woman, the gift of age gives me the legs to stand on my truths, and for that, I am most grateful.

 

I’m re-inventing myself again, and I look forward to the years given to me. I’m not a point where others must worry about my health or mental status, however the forward path is certain to contain some of that truth. I’m not fearful but that doesn’t mean fear won’t raise its voice.  I just hope I’m as open as now to receive it gracefully.

 

Carol! – She’s It VP Life Transformation Partners