It’s been fun! I love not having to be home or cook dinner. I buy and eat the food I like, and the refrigerator has lots of empty space. I go to meetings and movies at night, leave the sink with dirty dishes and don’t feel guilty about setting a bad example. I hardly ever do laundry, clean only half the house, and have much more discretionary money.
But the greatest benefit is that I am appreciating my strengths and I am not as frequently reminded of my shortcomings. I am again asking “who am I” and what are my passions and my work in the world? As I find myself teaching more about “becoming elders in the public square” I am also discovering that I am doing that myself – at 66 years of age, I am becoming an elder in the public square.
This is not just about me. I am meeting other folks who are also “coming out of the closet” as elders, wanting to create a collective legacy of a sustainable world – and together we are creating ripples.
As an example, just two weeks ago I was at the National Gathering of the Conscious Elders Network – a group of smart, caring folks, who want to create a better world for their grandkids, for all children. We were discussing issues of social justice when one person suggested that we write a Resolution in support of the Standing Rock Sioux – who are protecting their water from the threat presented by the Dakota Access Pipeline. We agreed and within a day it written, affirmed – and 75 elders went back to their communities with the awareness that our Native neighbors are courageously standing on the front lines, protecting our water for future generations -- their children and our children.
The Elders and Tribal Leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux will receive these Resolutions later this week and have already expressed their appreciation for us reaching out to them.
But they are not separate from us, as Martin Luther King wrote , “all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
As my nest has emptied and I have more focused time I am becoming increasingly aware of the truth of MLK's words. What is happening with our Native friends in North Dakota is happening for us as well. Their water is our water. They are on the front lines and what they are now facing we too will also face -- if not today, then in the future.
This is our tie to wake up -- to be "conscious elders" -- to what is true in our world, and take a stand for all life, for all generations. This is our work as elders, this is my work as an elder. We do it most effectively when we do it together.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Learn about the Conscious Elders Network, Sage-ing® International or Elders Climate Action -- and see how these organizations might ignite your interests;
- Follow what is happening with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and how they are acting as peaceful Water Protectors;
- Finally, consider what are the issues that capture your attention and imagination? How do you want to help create a thriving and just future?