On the Shelf or Embracing Life?

Could it be that rather than putting ourselves on the shelf as we get to a certain age, we have the amazing opportunity to serve and express ourselves more freely, released from the false worries about fitting in and what people will think about us?

No need for the resignation of, “I’ve got nothing to lose,” – but the choice to be inspired by the same feeling – unashamed and without shyness we can go for it, sharing our experience, wisdom and observations without reservation.

There is enormous fun to be had with this as we first accept the liberation and then the simplicity of the responsibility on offer to support and mentor others, sharing what we have learnt along the way.

So what, as a society, can we say is going on when we so readily dismiss and sideline our elders? With our attention and attachment to youthfulness, are we resisting the natural cycles of life and the richness they hold, disregarding and undervaluing all that is on offer from our elders and their lived experience?

As two elders, we have certainly had a developing relationship with the concept of growing old. There are so many myths that abound around ageing:

  • That we will at some point ‘get it’ or ‘have all the answers’
  • That it is a decline from everything we had when we were younger, ‘over the hill’ as the saying goes
  • That it is the time for us to retire and be rewarded for our hard work, a ‘putting out to pasture’ mentality
  • That, maybe particularly for women, it is all over in terms of our physical attractiveness to others
  • That we should gracefully step aside to make way for the younger generation.

Talking to others and as we feel now there is no ‘getting it,’ – the gorgeous thing being that we actually start to feel younger, realising how much we still have to learn and losing the pressure of needing to look like we have all the answers. This leaves us much more open, curious and appreciative of the ongoing and endless discoveries life offers. There is an acceptance that introduces humility, a life-enriching quality that allows us to view the world and our place and purpose in it with a sense of the bigger picture and the joy of our equality.

It is now our experience that our ageing bodies are beautiful, sexy, sweet, and endlessly precious, emanating qualities that behold, nurture and support others. We can give ourselves permission to embrace the confidence and freedom to dress and present ourselves without being devotees to fashion magazines and the latest ‘looks.’ And that there is no retirement requirement; that a deepening engagement with life and the people in it means we realise how much we still have to offer and how much we want to continue to do so.

Whilst gripping youth so ardently (seen so clearly in the celebrity world), is humanity as a whole avoiding the responsibility and balance of embracing growing old and the steadiness and deep understanding of life that these years hold? And how in the reflection of the way we live, others get to transform and develop their relationship and understanding of ageing and growing older.

In our experience of being elders, at work, in our families and amongst our community, there is a grace in accepting growing older and a huge service in taking responsibility for the pivotal part we play in society. If we reflect on this being the autumn of our lives and what this symbolises, it can be a period of great inspiration as we take stock of what is truly important and offer this reflection to others.

No need to shrink into the shadows. We can simply embrace growing older, appreciating the passage of time, the learning on offer and the blessing of the responsibility we have to share and reflect.

By Judy Joy and Matilda Bathurst

Related Reading:
Sexiness in the Older Woman – Not Related to Age, Sex or Good Looks!
Active Ageing – your Health in your Hands
‘The Joy of Ageing, Esoterically’ 

1,011 thoughts on “On the Shelf or Embracing Life?

  1. I actually felt yesterday that I am feeling more in tune with my body, more beautiful and more in love with myself then I have since I was a young girl –
    Self love and self acceptance is all of our natural birthright – take this away and we are subjected to people’s judgments – it’s taking on these judgements that makes us look and feel older then we are.

  2. As a woman in my 30s I am deeply inspired by the older women in my life. Their lack of self judgement or need to be perfect, their understanding and holding of others, their zest for life and their purpose are deeply inspiring.

  3. There can be a bit of defiance and defeat underneath our drive when we say we have nothing to loose … but if we approach life appreciating who we are no matter our age we present something very different that we’re amazing just as we are at any age, and we are just us not trying to prove anything. And the world badly needs more people, especially elders to do this.

  4. “There is an acceptance that introduces humility, a life-enriching quality that allows us to view the world and our place and purpose in it with a sense of the bigger picture and the joy of our equality.”
    The quality of humility is opening me to being much more willing to learn from life and much less wanting to fight what it brings.

  5. Speaking up can be scary as we can be worried about how another will take it or if we will be judged etc. But it is super important to share what we hold and have inside us and not hide it away.

  6. Allowing our body to feel that we can “simply embrace growing older, appreciating the passage” of space that will allow us to be aware of what our next in-carnation will bring does take all the stresses out of this life and so we become aware of the truer way of living with a divine purpose for life.

  7. No shrinking here too.
    I love each day my body gets older as I also feel much wiser everyday and blessed to re-discover the love I am and shine in through my body.

  8. Taking stock, and see what is true, that’s something that is very missing from our world and perhaps our constant chasing of youth is part of this; maybe in our race to be ahead, to catch that next thing we miss out on what is truly important, and this I feel is what our elders offer us, context, the bigger picture and an understanding that there is so much more than we know … our world needs more of our elders to remind us of all parts of the cycle we live in.

  9. I remember as a teenager thinking that anyone over thirty was over the hill and that I knew better because I had my finger on the pulse of life, but it wasn’t long before I went through a long period of knowing that I didn’t and now I can often feel when a young person is thinking that I am over the hill, now theres a bit of karma for you. Now that I have reached fifty an age I used to think was way over the hill and up the other side, I still feel as young as I used to and in some ways it feels like life has just begun.

  10. “That we should gracefully step aside to make way for the younger generation.” This is a big one isn’t it? And one that actually makes me very sad because it means our elders are hidden away and we do not have as many opportunities to learn from their lived experiences and the elder wisdom that they share, and we are less of a society when they are hidden.

  11. As I reflect on ageing and where I am in life now – this blog has supported me to realise that when I was younger and physically I could achieve so much, move so quickly, lift and shift things which meant not asking for help etc, I am realising the true gift of ageing is that it is removing so many of these obstacles and is bringing me back to who I am from the ‘inside’ first. Thank you Matilda and Judy for exposing how we get distracted and how ageing clears many illusions that gets in the way of living truthfully.

  12. Could it be possible that having any focus at all on aging will never serve our body because what that involves within the larger aspect of us being immortal becomes a distraction? So as a Soul-full being we still have to lovingly nurture our bodies and this will provide the body with the ability to be able deliver wisdom no matter how old.

  13. We all have so much to appreciate as we grow older and not only the fact that we are discovering we have choices in life and a true connection to God. Also we can feel the true relationship we can have with others, when we understand our equality and there is always equalness within-our-inner-most or essence!

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