Dawn is bright and vibrant and the sun is strong during the day. A different beauty emerges in the evening, as the sun begins to set. Then the contrasts become more pronounced and the colors richer. Evening exposes a new beauty that daytime doesn't show. Similarly, as the body withers with age, the spirit ripens. This is a truth of life.
In our Western culture, we mistakenly equate the physical strength and capacity of youth with beauty and happiness. But this perspective ignores our inner-self, which is every bit as important, if not more important, than our outer-self. This is why the truly great— those who have been honored and appreciated throughout the ages, are not celebrated for their physical prowess or physical beauty, but for their character and wisdom. Furthermore, although the strong body of youth can be a source of a sense of vitality and health, character and wisdom take time to develop, and are not as accessible to younger people. Rather, inner-wealth is almost exclusively the possession of those who have faced decades of challenges and learned from them, in other words, of the aged. Elders have something incredibly valuable to give to others which can’t be obtained elsewhere.
As mentioned in the first paragraph, there is a beauty to the latter hours of the day and to the human body in the latter years of life. While the smooth skin of youth certainly has its beauty, the wrinkled skin of an elder has a beauty of its own, reflecting character and the path one has traversed.
In addition to developing wisdom, seniors can be guided by their wisdom to connect directly with the source of life itself through sacred pursuit. While youths chase sensual pleasures, seniors can dive into their essence and find far greater joy than the momentary pleasures of youth.
Notice that I said old people can develop character and wisdom and can dive into spirit. Doing so is not mandatory, not guaranteed. Rather, it is a choice. One has to work for it. One can choose to let go of trying to remain a child and instead seek to discover and develop the opportunities of elderhood. As the title of this post says, doing so is an inside job. This work happens within one's mind and heart. The process of doing so is the Sage’s path.
Rather than simply becoming old, those on the sage-ing path strive to free themselves from the self-limiting images our culture has of aging and to access and develop the gifts of age. There are several steps in the Sage-ing process, including life review, harvesting the wisdom of one’s life, and opening to the sacred side of life perhaps through contemplative practices, selfless service, and ritual, among others.
If you would like to know more about this path of Sage-ing, take note: I am considering presenting an online series of workshops to introduce you and guide you in the process of Sage-ing. This series will provide you with a kick start in the process. If you are interested, please let me know using the contact form on this website and I will add you to the list to be notified when the course is ready.