I recently spent a weekend with 7 other women between 58 and 72. One sunlit morning, we sat around the breakfast table with its line of little vases of bright blossoms marching down the center. Feeling expansive, well fed, and cocooned in an atmosphere of camaraderie and mutual respect, we began to talk about aging.
We described the terrific older women we each knew who we want to emulate and we shared pithy quotes that inspired us. In time the idea arose of combining it all — and more — into a road map for our own aging as we pondered our own wishes for the future.
All the aspects that are important to our lives constitute points on the map. Like any map there would be many ways to travel, directions to travel in, and some perhaps to avoid, but we all agreed that the journey was the thing.
For some time I have been asking elders what capacities they find to important to develop. The following is a collection of points on the aging map that were shared 12 years ago by a group of women artists then in their sixties and seventies.
- Cultivate discipline and loyalty
- Don’t judge yourself too harshly
- Express yourself creatively – communicate
- Consider others, be responsible
- Strive to be happy in your own way
- Take chances – look for opportunities.
- Pick yourself up after you hit a kink in the road.
- Be happy with all that is given to you
- Learn from experiences by reflecting on them
- Take time out.
- Never give up – hope always
- Care for your body
- Enjoy the journey regardless of where you travel
- Honor family
- Be glad for the success of others
- Look for the good in people
- Be culturally aware and tolerant
- Judge another not too quickly – Walk in others’ shoes
- Repeat advice in stories and metaphor
How do these change with each new generation?
What would you include on your map? And how would it show up in your life?
Which would you like to cultivate?
What is missing from the list?