Each year I select a word or phrase to guide me through the year and provide a focus for growth. This year’s word is SAGEING. I first read this term in a comment on Elizabeth Gilbert’s newsletter where the commenter described it as the act of growing older and wiser, i.e. becoming sage-like. I hadn’t heard the word before, but it would not let me go, so I have known since the middle of last year what this year’s word would be!
I did a little digging and found a couple of organisations with this exact focus to help me understand a little more. According to Sage-ing International, sageing is about aging consciously through life’s transitions and challenges. It is a view of aging as a “spiritual practice that can elicit joy and contentment, positively benefiting our families and the communities and cultures we serve”. The term is adapted from the work of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.
How am I planning to approach this year of focus? Serendipitously, this concept dovetails nicely with a book that I have had for a few years and have been wanting to work through called The Quest – Discover a way to enjoy the second half of life, by Randy Elrod. I have also bought the Rabbi’s book From Age-ing to Sage-ing as an added resource. Other resources this year will include Canadian philosopher and cognitive scientist professor Dr John Vervaecke’s lectures.
I am at the point where the things that served me in the first half of my life no longer serve me as I take my first steps into the second half. I want to make the most of my remaining days and need some guidance along the way, so I am turning to the wisdom of others to help me make that transition. Who knew there was a quote for just this occasion?
In the blurb for Elrod’s book, he states:
The path of The Quest is a unique journey, and no two ways are alike. Therefore I say each story is different, yet every story is the same. The many options can be disorienting. But fortunately, we have universal waypoints (intermediate points) that guide us to find the wisdom needed to make this journey of personal freedom. Ten topics repeatedly appeared in the rituals, books, and resources I studied and in the conversations I’ve had with others going through the transition to second life.
Psychologist Carl Jung calls such recurrences synchronicity or “meaningful coincidences.” The waypoints (chapters) in this book explore each recurring theme. Ten ways to discover one’s call to adventure, to survive the trials, accept the rewards, and, yes, enjoy the second half of life.
Elrod’s “signature” talk video explains that on average we humans get to live for on average about 27,000 days, and on the day, I am writing this I have lived 19,385 of them. That leaves me just over 7500 to go if I am fortunate. The first 9000 days were spent growing up and learning the ropes, establishing a family and a home and being taught and guided by external influences. The next 9000 days were the chaos of the middle with deep pain and struggle at times, peppered with equally deep joys in the midst of it all. 7500ish days remain. Doesn’t seem like many does it?
I want to make these remaining days count. I desire to thrive and not just survive. I want to love and serve in a way that feeds and sustains me and is entirely me. But I need a wise guide or three.
I have started the reading process and have made it through the introductory chapters of The Quest, and like his video, Elrod points the way to asking the right questions.
- How do I be who I am?
- How do I know who I am?
- How do I find out who I am?
- What myths am I living?
- What’s my story?
- Who am I apart from my history and roles I have played?
- What do I want?
- What do I feel?
- What moves me?
- How has the first half of life informed the way I am now?
- What needs to go?
- What do I change it with?
At the crux of it all is a search for identity and a journey to wholeness. In the words of David Bowie, “Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.”
That sounds great to me!
This year I am going deep, and I am both terrified and excited. Here’s to sageing and enjoying life!
I plan to work through the book one section at a time, and already I am struck by how it all relates to the words selected in the previous two years — Presence and Slow. I cannot wait to read the rest and share parts of the journey along the way.
“Wisdom is not something we have to strive to acquire. Rather, it arises naturally as we slow down and notice what is already there.” — Haemin Sunim
Perhaps I have been on this path a little longer than I thought.