Sunday, March 13, 2016
Reflections on changes
I'm feeling very reflective this morning, for a variety of reasons. Still thinking about those seven tasks of aging that Carl Jung described, for one thing. His fourth and fifth tasks are: Letting go of the ego, and Finding new rooting in the Self. I have found myself puzzling over the meaning of these tasks. What the heck is the ego, for one thing, and what is the Self? In the world of today, infinite knowledge is at my fingertips. Typing into google "letting go of ego" gives me plenty of places to explore. I found enough rich soil there that I never got around to googling the second task. Now it's time to ponder it all right here in my Sunday morning reflections.
Almost everything I found points me toward a meditation practice. Years ago I was a daily meditator. It's been long enough now that I only remember how much it permeated my every action. Even though I only sat twice a day for twenty minutes, I sometimes found myself craving that quiet space while I was at work, with phones ringing off the hook and colleagues demanding my attention. I remember a few times when I entered my apartment at the end of my work day, took of my shoes and immediately went to my meditation pillow to recover some equanimity.
That was a long time ago. I've still got that meditation pillow, but when I try to sit these days, my knees complain and I don't seem to have the desire. The memory of how much I received from that practice remains, however, and I keep trying. I even purchased a wooden stool that allows me to sit with a straight back and my knees are much happier. But it wasn't enough to make me take up the practice again.
However, the yoga classes I've been taking have given me new strength to find a way to incorporate the peace of meditation into my daily routine. Much of the yoga positions are tied to the breath, and just doing some of that gentle breathing while in class has reminded me that simply breathing consciously is a step toward tranquility. So I will try again to find some time each day to sit and observe my breath. I'll let you know how that goes.
Yesterday I watched a movie I hadn't seen in ages: a Daniel Craig James Bond, Casino Royale. The movie seemed rather dated, and it's only ten years old. I couldn't quite figure out why, until I realized that everyone in the movie used small PDAs instead of smartphones. The movie was made in 2006, and the iPhone came out in 2007. And what a change that has made to the entire world! Between Androids and iPhones, people everywhere and at all times of the day and night are glued to those screens. I have gotten on the bus at times and noticed that most of the people on board are not present but are looking down at their smartphones.
I have one, too, but when I'm out in public I don't look at it much. Maybe it's because I'm not listening to music or reading my emails every moment of the day. That doesn't mean that I don't enjoy being connected through technology, but the desire to be present, especially when I'm out and about, is more important to me. When we spend our Thursdays in the wilderness, much of the time we have no internet or phone connectivity anyway, and it's just as well to have some time when those little devices in our pockets can be turned off.
There was a time, not so long ago, when our phones were plugged into the wall. I know there are people who don't even remember those times, but really it wasn't that long ago. My first cellphone was a small flip phone and I felt so proud to have it, and today it is considered old fashioned. My new phone takes fantastic pictures, reminds me of appointments, tracks my steps, has an app for my grocery list, maps to help me get around, loads my emails and text messages, allows me to video chat, and it even makes phone calls now and then! If I accidentally leave the house without it, I'll turn around and retrieve it or feel positively naked without it.
So I do understand the pull to constantly be connected, and most of the time I am. But there is so much more to life than electronic connection. I've got to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life, and as time goes by I realize that there is less and less of it. Presently I am in good health (as far as I know) with the vicissitudes of life in my seventies reminding me with this ache or pain that the direction we all travel is towards letting go.
I found a lovely quote by Anais Nin during my journey online: And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Although I've been a risk taker my whole life, it seems quite difficult for me to embrace all that aging entails with willingness. Even though I wanted to hang onto youth as long as possible, the years passed and it left me anyway. Now that I am an old woman, I really want to take advantage of what I've learned along the way. So here goes.
With that admonishment from Jung, who points the way forward with his seven tasks, I'll be writing on each Sunday morning about what I have discovered during the past week. I guess that's what I've been doing anyway, but I feel a renewed sense of purpose has crept into my consciousness. As always, I look forward to hearing what you, my dear readers, have to say.
I lost an hour of sleep last night, as many of you did as well. The clock says it's almost 7:00am but my heart still says it's almost 6:00am. Until we meet again next week, same time and place, I wish you all good things and hope that the week will bring you happiness. Be well.