with third age? "Try easier..."
year, I wrote: ”Learning is the heart of First Age.
Doing is the heart of Second
Age. Being is the
heart of Third Age.” A
year later (with a lot of help from my 87-year-old Yoda, Ed Paul), I see
this attempt at neat categories was inevitable but mistaken. Learning, Doing and Being are part of every stage of life.
differentiates Third Age (at least as I see it this year) is that the
receding tangible (decline of physical and mental abilities and,
especially later, frequent loss of friends) can open us to a new
connection with the intangible (god, spirit, integrity, the universal,
whatever you like to call him/her/it).
This intangible “Higher Self” connects us to more than body
and ego, and helps us relax into a wisdom, ease, and ability to serve
beyond what we’ve know before.
believe this happens when the ego feels secure enough to become
"servant" to the “Higher Self,” when it believes there’s
something larger it can trust in, surrender to and partner with.
It’s essential the ego know we're not trying to kill it or it
will fight desperately for survival – we’re simply relieving it of
responsibilities beyond its abilities.
Mountain Dreamer’s The Call:
Discovering Why You Are Here (Harper, San Francisco, 2003)
offers a profound description of how hard it is for the ego to release
control. Oriah decided to do a 40-day retreat so she “can do it
differently.” Even though
she's experienced in retreats, she becomes very ill early on.
She directs her anger to voices she calls “The Grandmothers.”
In a desperate plea, she declares that she is willing to do
whatever it takes to get answers to all her questions.
she is told that she cannot get there from here; that she cannot achieve
what she seeks through ordeal. Oriah
has come to believe that hard work, whether fasting, solitude or
physical rigors will triumph in achieving answers to our questions.
She fights our culture’s glorification of the easy answer and
the quick fix. She is
willing to sacrifice comfort for what matters!
she is taken aback when the Grandmothers voices tell her what she’s
looking for cannot be earned; that it is a gift and can only be
received. What?!! Oriah
has always worked hard to earn what she receives.
She is comfortable with achievement and hard work.
She is told to try “easier.”
To this response, she pleads for any other answer, please!
It is a revelation in her mind that she can’t “do easier”
and she doesn’t trust people who can.
She doesn’t want to hear that the answer to all her questions
is not the one thing she cannot do. The Grandmothers finally tell her in a soft, sad voice
that she is fighting with reality and she should give it up.
story helps me recognize I’ve been fighting with reality for a long
time. New Zealand’s West
Coast is helping me live an easier reality of “Be Here Now.”
My children and grandchildren remind me of why it is important
beyond myself to do this. I’m
incredibly fortunate to have had so much help on this journey.
Thank you Ed, Oriah and all the others…
By William Idol
All rights reserved.
Idol is the director of process design for The Center for Third Age
Leadership and his proven creative learning techniques provide the training foundation for The Center’s work.