New Laws Help LGBT Elders
Steven's Dragon - Part 1

Hope and Fear

Some good friends, all met through blogging, are filling in for me while I take a two-week sabbatical from Time Goes By. Today’s guest blogger is Kate Winner of KateThoughts who says she is a product of her time, her family, her religious history, her (often much older) friends, and her varied, and not always traditional education.

She thinks she knows all about the School of Hard Knocks, says Kate, but her life has been pretty easy. She has written and/or “journaled” for years, and began blogging back in the days when she was creating a coaching business. Now she blogs for fun, for clarity of mind, and for exploring the ideas that sprout from the writings of others.


Lately, there has been a lot of stuff about hope and heart and resolutions, about change and pulling together, and about bailouts and bunglers. Some of it is seasonal, some is political and economic. All of it has to do with, and can be affected by our consciousness, both individually and collectively.

Most people I know are fearful these days. Me too. Often.

But fear works directly against me, I think. So does hope.

Consider hope as a word. According to the Free Dictionary, it always points to the future. It means,

  • to look forward to with confidence or expectation
  • ...theological virtue defined as the desire and search for a future good...

Pema Chödrön, in her book called When Things Fall Apart, has this to say:

"Hope and fear is a feeling with two sides. As long as there's one, there's always the other…In the world of hope and fear, we always have to change the channel, change the temperature, change the music, because something is getting uneasy, something is getting restless, something is beginning to hurt, and we keep looking for alternatives."

She goes on to say,

"Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can't simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment."

So, if we abandon hope and its partner fear, what is left to us? I think it is mindfulness; an opportunity to be fully present with ourselves – right now – in a way that can clear up the turmoil we feel when we focus on the current economic news, for example. Those of you who meditate may understand this better than I or be able to articulate it better.

I believe that all, literally ALL, is rocking along exactly as it should. I can imagine that everything that has and is happening is doing so in order for me to get just exactly the right lessons to move me forward on the path I've chosen. I believe that is true for us as a nation, too.

We got here by the actions that we took, the decisions we made. Collectively, of course. The fact that I didn't vote for Bush didn't stop him from being my president. It means to me that, collectively, We the People chose him. So my job now is to learn from the experience and determine what my next step(s) will be.

I learned to count worth in terms of dollars. Most of us did. And that has led us to a culture that builds in obsolescence. Things must get old and worn out, so we can buy a new one - a better one - one that comes with everything! If we don't, the economy will falter and people will lose jobs and it will all be my fault.

What does this have to do with aging?

Is it any wonder that people become obsolete, too? That ”old” in our culture starts at about 30 or 35, and that we “should” all die, or at least have the grace to stay out of sight with our mouths shut?

What am I to do about that? What is most important for me to consider now, at age 61-and-a-half?

I can be clear. I can be present. I can NOT play the “ain't it awful” game with my neighbor. I can choose to see that right now I have the best opportunity to reconsider how I live and what I model for others.

I'm learning more about recycling; I'm considering what I really need rather than continuing that sort of knee-jerk shopping that I used to do so thoughtlessly. I can start a discussion about the future here, and with my friends and neighbors. I can imagine a new and different country. Yes, we need some economic recovery. And don't we also need a new and different ethic and a little less fear?

I strongly believe that the words we use and the thoughts we think all have an energy of their own that has a part in creating the world in which we live. So, I must choose my words and actions carefully and imagine that someone is watching; someone who will learn from me about how to be.

This, I believe, is a part of my purpose for being here and a big part of my legacy for the future; my job, if you will. I believe it applies to all of us. It is in these things that our present happiness resides. If we attend to these now, the future will take care of itself, and us.

[The story bin at The Elder Storytelling Place is empty so until some new ones arrive, let's revisit some from the archive. Today, The Man Who Thought He Was a Train from Susan Fisher. All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]

Comments

A lovely, thoughtful post, Kate, and so full of wisdom.
These are very useful reminders - the kind I need often. So thank you.

I Drink a lot of coffee... Now the Swedes say that could prevent Alzheimer's

I was happy to read a Yahoo article in which a Swedish study showed that folks who drink five or six cups of coffee a day in middle age reduce their chances of getting Alzheimer's disease in their later years.

As I approach my later years, already with enough medical problems to make me wince, Alzheimer's is something I really hope to avoid. Now all the coffee drinking I've done (and still do) seems to have a reward.

The few times in my life when I've given up coffee for a number of months at a time are behind me. My praises to caffeine.

I could not agree with your column more. I refuse to be defined by an age, a number. I am a person. I believe that life is to be lived; the best we can. I don't dwell on the economics, though that is a challenge. I try to see opportunities, solutions if you will, to living the best life I can. And, there is a lot of good and wonderful people and happenings, even in these times, that can be embraced.

A fine article. And it's not unlike a feather floating down which you watch and appreciate but don't necessarily have a comment to enhance it.

Thank you for a reminder that what we do and say influences others. I will be visiting my granddaughters next month and will try to be a role model by my words.

AMEN to all of it!

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I'm honored to appear here and pleased that you found value.

Marian, you're most welcome; I can say the same right back to you for your own wonderful words.
NancyB, thanks. Someone just reminded me of Obama's words when he said, "Don't waste a crisis." Though things can be scary, what a time to learn and move ahead.
Notdotdot, what a beautiful image. Thanks for sharing that picture.
Darlene, hug those little critters for me. I missed out on grandkids by skipping the whole children thing. Now I sometimes miss having little ones around. (I tend to think toddlers as they are my favorite age.)
For my money, a good model is often the best legacy.

Gollygeewhizzakers,and I thought I was the only one blogging about life after sixty. LOL...just discovered your blog...delightful. Looking forward to reading and catching up with past entries.

What a great, thoughtful, and thought provoking post, Kate!

Marcus Aurelius wrote: "Everything that happens happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so."

He could be right. Perhaps we are so busy worrying or wishing that we don't see things as they are.


Thanks for the comment and the quote, Kay. I hadn't heard it before, but I do believe it. Worrying & wishing (though I do my share) are really just future thinking.
I'm gonna practice 'til I get it right.

Love it! You hit the nail squarely on the head. Hope and Fear both only exist if you allow them to -- and I simply don't have time for either one of them. At age 72 I'm very busy getting on with my life. I grew up quite happily with no money and have spent most of my life like that -- so what else is new?!

Kate,

We certainly do need to change our culture of obsolescence and our consumer economic model. Without a change we will deplete our natural resources and pollute our planet to the point that it won't sustain life. And, as you say, living in the present does greatly enhance one's attitude and relationships. But, I believe that we have to do more than just imagine "a new and different country."

We've got to take an active role. I don't believe that the future takes care of itself. We've got to choose and support leaders who have the intelligence, desire and skill to replace planned obsolescence and consumerism as an economic model, to ensure that no one is without health care, etc. Leaders who have the moral fiber and strength to resist the influences of money and power. Leaders who will work to eliminate political and corporate greed. Leaders who will work to eliminate corporate welfare. Leaders who will, by example, work to restore ethics and honor as driving forces in our society. Do such Utopian leaders exist? No! But, I'm sure that there are plenty of qualified people who could work at making the needed changes. Unfortunately, our political system is such that raising money becomes the primary objective of a candidate, which leaves them beholdin' to special interests.

Since I try to be pragmatic, I'm neither fearful nor hopeful, just cynical about whether any of the things that I listed above will happen. Despite the economic, ecological, and political shambles we find ourselves in, I've not lost faith in the inherent goodness of the majority of people. I've just lost faith in their ability to avoid being hoodwinked by those with special interest agendas.

Most people have been raised to respect and not question authority (their parents, teachers, religious leaders, etc.). Consequently, people unconsciously develop a mind set that is to some degree based on an uncritical acceptance of the opinions of others. This makes it easier for them to uncritically accept things, as long as they fit into their particular mind set. This is one reason politicians like polls; they allow the politicians to play to the biases and prejudices of the majority.

Unless people learn to put aside their prejudices and knee-jerk emotions long enough to use a little critical thinking, they will continue to be bamboozled by politicians and special interest proponents, and we will continue to pay through the nose for Wall St. and other corporate bailouts, for unnecessary wars based on lies and deception, for unemployment caused by outsourcing of jobs overseas, etc. By being caught up in the mundane and not expending the time and effort to do a little fact checking, people can't weed out the misinformation, spin, and downright lies propagated by the special interest proponents (which include politicians who have been accepting corporate favors and contributions for years or have their own special agendas). To compound the situation, this false information is disseminated in the national media by some uncritical, biased, and lazy reporters and talking heads (some with their own agendas).

So, unless people become more critically aware (which I strongly doubt), they will never clearly understand how they are being used to further these special interest agendas. And, yes, we'll continue to pay. Not just with money, but with the lives of our young. How many more flag-draped coffins have to be returned to the U.S. before people wake up and do something to make those responsible accountable for their actions?

Kate,

After rereading my comment, I realized that it sounds a bit harsh. Please don't take offense, because I didn't intend for it to disparage your post or in any way reflect on you. It's just that the political and corporate shennanigans, the greed and lack of ethics demonstrated by certain individuals, in and out of government, have had such disasterous consequences for so many people that it really riles me. Next time, I'll try to tone down my screed.

No offense taken, George. In fact, I was very pleased with your discussion.
You were just addressing a different part of the cosmic puzzle and you are not wrong.

I can't MAKE people smarter or less greedy or anything at all, really. So, I work for a better world in my way. I have neither the intellect, the power, or the position/connections to argue with the 'suits'. And I strongly believe that my manner of being in my skin CAN make a difference.

AND, you taught me a new word: screed. That is not what you wrote above, however. Thanks.

Marylou, WELCOME. Hang out here a bit and you'll meet tons of us who write about the processes we're all involved in.

Miki, thanks for your comment and your enthusiasm for "getting on with life". Me, too.

Couldn't agree more. All the wisdom shining through in the post and responses today...glad it was shared with me.

Thank you all!

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