The Silver Gate – The Task

“The Silver Gate requires us to surrender our egos and begin the process of accepting the aging of the body and mind. (…) Our task at this gate is to move beyond the familiar and strengthen our capacity to develop curiosity, trust, and flexibility.” Angeles Arrien

I have been working on this acceptance for years – long before I found this book.  In fact, I have written about it many times on another blog. You can read my thoughts here.

For the purposes of this exercise I’m going to wander down the ego path.

If I acknowledge (which I have done) and rest into (in some ways) my aging, what will I gain and what will I lose? This is looking at it from the ego, isn’t it?

I have gained so much and as I move through this book, I realize that there is always more to come. More joy, more wisdom, more sharing, more ease with life, more alignment in spirit and essence.

And there are things that I might not give up so easily.

I hope that I can stay active throughout my life. I have had periods of illness and restricted activity but have always been able to work my way back. I don’t fast-forward toward the “what ifs” and so I don’t know how it will be to give up my strength and vitality.

I am used to how I look. I still feel attractive and winsome. Oh, I gain a few pounds here, a wrinkle there, and sagging lots of things; but, overall my changes come slowly and almost imperceptibly. I continue to try to look my best – and that idea of my best has changed through the years. I think of beauty differently and value a smile emanating from inner good will as an ageless magnet. Will I ever look myself in the eye and be dissatisfied with who I see there? I hope not ever because of superficial changes that we take on with aging. But who knows?

I love my independence. Although I am happy to volunteer and assist those who need assistance, I don’t really contemplate how it will be when I am the one who needs it. I hope I have the wisdom to ask for and accept help. And I hope there is someone like myself who offers their hand in a friendly way as an equal.

I don’t really worry so much about my mind. Of course, I don’t like forgetfulness. But, I have much experience with loved ones with dementia and Alzheimer’s. If the only way I can master “presence” is to be unable to remember the past or plan for the future…so be it!

The Student

 

 

 

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Something New – Part 8

“The challenge of the Silver Gate is to reconnect to our regenerative forces and stay connected to them. Many cultures of the world have traditional practices to accomplish this.” Angeles Arrien
I am intrigued by an Ancient European custom cited in this section that is still practiced in some areas of the world. The challenge is to do something never before tried each month. The custom is to do it on one’s birthdate, but I will play fast and loose with that.
* * *
Each month I think – what opportunity will I have for some new experience? Will I search for something? Will it come unbidden? And then it comes…IMG_0407
I know. It’s hard to believe that I am this age and have never reported for jury duty. Actually, I’ve been notified one other time (two years ago) and opted out because my husband was scheduled for surgery.
This time I read the small print and noted that I had an out. I could actually play the age card (70+) and be excused without question.
No way! Not only was this my civic duty but it was a perfect new experience for eighth month of my Silver Gate challenge.
On the first day of the summons, I checked in online and my number was not up. On the second day, the 27th, it was. (Perfect because this is actually my birth date and conforms to the letter of the challenge.)
I was pumped! I wanted to be early and started off in good time. When I was almost to the courthouse I realized I had forgotten to bring my iPad. What? No Ereader? No distraction?
I actually turned back and headed for home before I got real. I had been warned not to be late. Could I not sit quietly and wait? Was a smart phone not enough to entertain me if I got desperate? And so I slipped in a few minutes early – at about 8:10 – one of approximately sixty people.
I filled out the questionnaire that was handed to me. Watched the video explaining procedure in the courtroom. And waited.
My age bracket was well-represent by those who had also ignored the option to decline. Although I’m not a good judge of age, I think there were people in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, too. There were men in t-shirts and sneakers. A woman in denim cut-offs. One young lady in a low cut shirt over tight capris sported some awesome wedge shoes. Women were dressed for office jobs. Men in construction attire. This wide assortment of people should provide a jury of peers for any defendant as long as he/she was white and middle class.
Sigh… This lack of diversity in color and ethnicity is typical of my area.
Rather than use my earbuds and listen to podcasts or music, I listened to the conversations in the room. Perhaps the acoustic were designed for eavesdropping because I could easily hear people’s low-voiced complaints from across the large room.
“Don’t they know I have a job? How long are they going to make us wait?”
“If they had to pay us for lost wages they might think twice about calling all of us in here?”
“This is my THIRD time on jury duty. WTF!” (This from a young person so I understood the inequity.)
A woman sitting by me had reported the day before and explained that by 9:00 a.m. we would probably be called if our questionnaires had passed muster for these particular trials.
By 10:00 a.m. the crowd was restless. We began trickling out toward the restrooms and were warned to ignore conversations in the lobby. Attorneys and clients might be discussing details of the cases.
At 10:30 a man entered and walket to the front of the room. He explained that he was a judge in two of the trials scheduled for the morning. Both had been settled. A third had been continued. We were excused.
Maybe a bit anticlimactic but it was fine with me. I had my new experience. And I had a free day ahead of me.
And if I ever actually serve on a jury…it will be another milestone.
The Student

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Renewal Comes

Reflections
• How do you renew and regenerate yourself? Where do you experience Lorca’s duende? (The spirit of passionate renewal, the igniting power of fire that comes from the depths of the human spirit.) Angeles Arrien

Throughout the journey through the Silver Gate, solitude and learning have arisen as a touchstones for me. Solitude creates my place for restoration, rejuvenation, and healing. Learning inspires me on my journey of renewal.

By now I recognize the signs of overstimulation. I have more than usual difficulty in staying present. I resort to distractions rather than rest. And I have difficulty with sleeping. Generally, I think of myself as uncentered – becoming irritable and inattentive – like a child without a nap.
All of these signal a need for solitude.
Learning feeds me in a different way. When I am in malaise or feeling burned out, finding myself living by rote and not living to any purpose –  it is time to learn something.
One could argue that I learn something each day. But there is a different spark for me. It is listening to one of the many teachers who I admire, and hearing their insights. It is choosing an online class from coursera.org and seeing an entirely different view of my world. Or it is choosing a class at the local university to sit in on movies and discussions, to have interactions with people having the same interests or opposing views. This is renewal.
Solitude and learning. Tending to my inner self and learning from the world around me. These are my dependable ways to bring myself back into alignment.
The Student
 

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