Writing on Wednsday: The Beginning of Descent
It’s been a pensive day. A day for taking long walks in the crisp, cool, fall air. A day for soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the beautiful autumn wreaths on my neighbors’ doors. (See photos at end of post.) And yes, even the spooky Halloween decorations that have popped up throughout Harbor Town. (Two doors down our neighbors have just won “Best Overall” in the Halloween competition. They’ve invited us to their “grown up” party after trick-or-treating is over on Friday night. Watch for more pictures on Friday.)
And it’s been a day for processing the synchronicity of last night’s “salon” at my house, featuring the wise and wonderful Sally Thomason. And the eclectic group of women who came together to explore a topic of great importance. We discussed Sally’s book, The Living Spirit of the Crone: Turning Aging Inside Out. And we told our stories. Twenty women who are mostly in the second halves of our lives.
Those women and their stories were so much on my mind all day that I couldn’t decide what to write about for this post until tonight. I have so many treasures I’m exploring from the evening that it’s hard to write a brief blog post. So I’m going share only one quote from Sally, and then one quote (which Sally included in the same chapter of the book) from one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver. First, from Sally: (who turned 80 in March, but wrote these words when she was 65)
I have passed the midpoint of my life. In fact, I am well into the descent. But contrary to the popular connotation of equating descent with decline, I view this descent as a call to explore myself more fully, to descend into the depths of being, and to probe this experience of aging as a new and extraordinary phase of human living.
We talked a little bit last night about having a map for that descent. I found much help for my map in one section of Sally’s book in which she included seven steps for the journey into old age that have been identified by Jungians Bruce Baker and Jane Wheelwright. The seventh step, “the engagement of unused potentials,” encourages me to tap into my creativity for purposes beyond my own satisfaction. This is something I’m going to continue to explore, especially in the arena of writing—and hopefully one day publishing—a novel.
I’ll close with these words from Mary Oliver’s book, Winter Hours:
There is something you can tell people over and over, and with feeling and eloquence, and still never say it well enough for it to be more than news from abroad—people have no readiness for it no empathy. It is the news of personal aging—of climbing and knowing it, to some unrepeatable pitch and coming forth on the other side, which is pleasant still but which is, unarguably, different—which is the beginning of descent.