Arriving Where We Started

Photography, Gaye Abbott – Western N. Carolina

“And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And to know the place for the first time.”

T.S. Eliot

The wild winds, pounding rain, thunder and lightening lashed out across the landscape. It was enough to make the dogs I was caring for while their owner was gone seek my touch and calming presence as the power to the house suddenly went off leaving us in a twilight space without electricity.

It was enough to simply be present to the power of nature and be still.

And then, as the storm passed and all was quiet the dogs and I stepped out into a world of fresh moisture laden air, fallen limbs from trees, water soaked earth….and the most glorious celebration of light and sunset clouds.

There was something about the landscape now that had transformed within the vibrant life of the storm.

It was like experiencing with all senses engaged the same landscape, that had been there earlier in the day, yet from a different perspective.

Fully communing with this unique nature choreographed beauty for the first time.

It struck me in those precious moments that one of the joys of aging is that you have more time to be still. To explore once again your essential nature that perhaps had been left behind in the business of the earlier stages of your life. To approach the inevitable ups and downs of elderhood placing attention on the possibilities hidden there.

Sometimes our lives feel like that storm, or variations there of, as we face challenges, make mistakes, end relationships. Yet when that has passed through, and it always does, you can be left with a new perspective and awareness that is often times quite different from when and where you started.

Our bodies have landscapes too. Over the last many months I have been working with a physical therapist to guide and support healing of several injuries to low back and hips. The mobility, fluidity and resilience I had always taken for granted was severely compromised. This transition from fully functioning elder to daily pain and compromised mobility was the path I was to walk. Death does not scare me, this did.

Through physical, mental, emotional….and spiritual…..exploration, entering into a deep respect for the intimate and infinite processes that as a whole keep us functioning. If not at optimal levels like we did in the earlier stages of our lives, at least providing a solid foundation for living fully.

My awareness now months later is that I am inhabiting my physicality in a more grounded and enhanced way. In other words I have greater awareness of the functioning whole than before the injuries, and the failures and mistakes in the recovery process that followed. Knowing and listening to what the body is communicating. Not as segmented separate parts but as an astonishing resilient whole.

What if we did celebrate our mistakes and failures as Margy Malan suggests in the short video below?

“Keep moving from a place of failure or brokenness, to be able to find that something new.”

– Margy Malan

“It’s time to abandon your ‘perfect life’. It’s time to admit that we all fail – it’s universal. Yet we’ve been taught to think of failure as something shameful, something we should silently carry around with us.

Instead, we need to know that the failure story ends with some sort of resiliency – I’ve picked myself up, I’m still going. We need to own our failures, celebrate them, share them, and learn from them.

Failure makes us – but only if we accept it as part of life. It’s time that we start to love all the pieces of life’s journey, because it’s through the struggles that we discover our strengths.

Filmed in Napier, South Africa by the Green Renaissance Team

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Gaye Abbott, Wildly Free Elder, 03/10/23

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