Recently I taught a class in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of North Florida, a program for people 50 years of age and older. The subject of my class was "The Influence of Childhood Messages on Adult Life", and we used two characters from my book, "Silent Echoes" as case studies. I taught the same class last year, and enjoyed it both times. However, this time the idea of age drew my attention.
Everything in life is put into categories, including who and what we are. Different cultures have different concepts of what age is old and what it means to be old. Some apply status and wisdom to old, some just tolerate it, some consider old useless, and others just recognize the person and don't make an issue of age.
I happen to live in a part of the world where emphasis seems to be mostly on youth, with great fear of aging. How horrible for someone to reach the age of 60. And older than that? Just get out the way...you've had your day. Is that attitude a lack of understanding or misplaced values? Or both? Not that everyone has that attitude, but it does seem to be the prevalent perception of old.
Well, I have to say that the students in my class shot holes in that attitude. There were 13 intelligent, dynamic and vibrant older folks who were learning and growing far more than many of their younger counterparts, and with their inner child spirit in high gear. What a room full of living, loving energy that could give hope to anyone dreading the older years.
The body may age, but you are not your body. You are your inner, higher Self. This is who and what you are. The people in my class were living in bodies that had changed over the years, but their Self had grown, and was still growing, into more of who they really are.
When my mother was old (as we perceive old), I cared, but I didn't understand what it means to be old. And I guess a person can't understand what old is until they get there. Yes, there is a downside to being old. But oh, what a remarkable discovery to witness, respect and value that beautiful young spirit living inside the aging body.
I say thank you to my class members who reminded me of who we really are. And I will remember that every time I look into a mirror and feel like I can't find me in there. I will look past appearances and see my Self.
I wish you a happy life with your inner child.