I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

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.

19 comments:

gigihawaii said...

I like that quote by Jung. During the 1970s, I studied music in New York and Hawaii. I wasn't very good at it and didn't make a career out of it.
Now, I listen to a CD and have to force myself to let go of my ego and simply listen to the music without it. After all, I am not the one performing. I am the listener.

Linda Reeder said...

My clock now says it is 8:45. The good thing is I got almost eight hours of sleep last night. The bad thing is it's already well into the morning and I'm just getting going. Still tight in the bud of this day. Sure hope a bit of sunshine will allow for a bit of blooming.
The other good thing is that I have no appointments this week and I can get up when I'm ready since I am old and retired. I will learn from your reflections. I am not a meditator, but I am a thinker. When work was at it's most stressful, back in those days when I worked for a living, my de-stressor was going for a walk and listening to a book on tape, on, yes, that old fashioned device called a Walkman. I needed the input in my ears to turn off the turmoil of my thinking. That was before iPhones and iPods.
It's different now, and I appreciate having reasons for deep thinking. Walking is still my thing, and usually with the company of a device or two. Soon those devises will talk to my new devices, my hearing aides. Sigh.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I am only connected at home. So I probably notice it more than other people...heads bent or holding a device to your ear or having something coming out of your ear... I still have a corded phone in the bedroom with a ROTARY Dial...can you believe it?
I am quiet usually late at night when it is quiet here that is my time for me. Sometimes I just pet Chance and relax:)

Elephant's Child said...

I relish my unconnected time. Time to step away, to breathe, to watch and to listen. I can see the benefits to our new and wonderful technology but I am a slow (and half-hearted) adopter.
Enjoy your week. Hugs.

The Furry Gnome said...

Always enjoy your Sunday morning reflections!

Hilary said...

I totally find myself being more reflective as I get older.......I just turned 69, but since I hit my head and had 3 surgeries, I am definitely not in the great shape I was just a few years ago.. And now my hip is going south. I find myself being more hermit like more often than not, and thinking a lot about my life, the choices I've made, and the ones I am making. I must say that I never saw this part of my life coming.....it's not what I expected, I guess.

Marie Smith said...

My iphone is for emergencies and is rarely turned on. I hate what it has done to society. We were at the theatre tonight and during intermission most people were texting etc on those devices. I find it curious person will go out together and then ignore each other for the night. Where is this going? Are we creating a society where people won't actually talk to each other?

Red said...

You know , I find the term "old woman" for you impossible to comprehend. I hope that you take seriously what others think of you and it's not old woman. We think of you as energetic and alive. Your quality of life is extremely high. I will look forward to the next posts.

Sally Wessely said...

I am reading this at 10:09 p.m. and feeling quite sleepy with the time change. I don't like it. I don't like the change at all.

Letting go of the ego... Funny, I was trying to express to my hair dresser today how I came to acceptance, or as much acceptance as I now have, about my hair loss. I told her it had nothing to do with aging. Aging is about letting go. I do think it is about letting go of ego. The hair loss was not anything I also factored in, but as I accepted aging, I think what has happened, as I tried to explain to her, is that I have found a "new rooting in the self." Identity changes as we age. We are still the same on the inside, but we shift to not needing to have that inside identity match what is seen on the outside. What do you think? Is this true.

I had all these thought before I read your post. I guess we are on the same wave length.

Miss you, DJan. Hugs.

Friko said...

That’s another good idea of yours, sitting back once a week and thinking back; what can we learn? I am not sure, I sometimes think that my learning period is over and that I want relax and just ‘be’ now. My ego is no longer very demanding anyway, it has learned to retreat peacefully.

I don’t need the constant connectivity either. I am quite happy to stroll about and become aware of what is around me. Watching Mille fossick is a greater pleasure than staring at a screen.

The Broad said...

It is always such a pleasure to find your Sunday posts, DJan. I so agree with you about the need for a break from constant connectivity. I've never been one for looking at my phone in public -- for me to walk down the street looking at any device would be positively dangerous! I do enjoy my various devices, but have always relished that time when I am alone with my thoughts, but like you, I really feel the need to have the phone on me -- even when I probably won't take it out of my pocket!

Tabor said...

My loved ones and friends live away and I cannot see them as often as I would like so the FAcebook and other technology is hard for me not use for about 30 minutes each day. I never meditated, but as I age I think it is something I should look into. My husband is a puppy dog, so that will be a big challenge. I have slowly become more Zen in my approach to time and aging. I am letting go.

Arkansas Patti said...

Since I have spent too much time in doctor's waiting rooms lately I have noticed a definite change. People no longer read ancient magazines, they are all glued to their smart phones. Even couples just stare at their own screens. I noticed one mother and daughter. The young daughter played on the phone till it would ring then the mom would talk a while before giving it back to her daughter. Neither spoke to the other. Kind of sad. Since my phone is a relic before flip phones, I don't have that problem. Lack of cell service here is a big reason.
Just recently I have discovered breathing exercises at night when I have awakened too early. Amazingly, they put me right back to sleep. May have to take them further.

Linda Myers said...

I love your Sunday posts!

"Old woman" is a chronological description, but not a reality in the way others see you.

I have been at my computer for a couple of hours taking care of multiple personal and business issues. I have used my phone to find out where we can donate at a Goodwill center here in Tucson. The versatility of what we can do with our electronic devices is amazing.

I have recently begun to meditate. It's easier than it used to be.

Glenda Council Beall said...

I, too, used to meditate. I used to exercise weekly. Now I sleep more and watch my favorite TV shows and write at my computer.
I don't have a smart phone and really don't want one. I am afraid it will cut me off from people and I love people. Yesterday while waiting in a dingy room for my car to be serviced, I talked with a lovely woman about my age. The time passed so quickly but it was like the flame of a candle, that short time we talked. She, a cancer patient, still afraid for her life, talked about what all of us need as we age, good doctors who understand what older people face each day and deal with each day. We talked about how no one understands cancer until they are faced with it in some way. The twenty minutes we waited for our cars was a very bright spot in my day and, I think, in hers as well. If we had been on some device, we would not have met. We would not have talked. We would not have become friends.

Barb said...

Today, we skied with our neighbor who is from Canada. He teaches skiing at the area when he lives in this house, but they often rent the house and are gone for a year or two. As we were riding the lift, I asked if he or his wife was on Facebook. I thought perhaps I could stay connected with them in that way. He laughed and said that they don't even have computers and don't do E-mail. He only uses the computer at the library if he must research something. That made me realize how much I depend on my electronics. I try to stay mindful, but I'm often pulled off course by being so plugged in! The neighbor is a delightful man who smiles a lot and seems totally present. He and his wife are at least 10 years younger than Bob and I - probably late 50's or early 60's. They're both physically active and seem in tune with life. However, I can't imagine being without electronics. I even read books electronically. But, as my neighbor sets a good example, I don't wish technology to rule my life. I also used to sit meditation, but for years now, I just focus on the breath when I'm ready for sleep or when I'm in turmoil. The breath clears the mind and brings me rest or peace.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Often when reading your posts I find myself saying, I feel the exact same way. It's so interesting that you have a great way of putting things into words and they often express my thoughts ... I do think you are better at putting these things into words than I am. For example, in this post, the 6th paragraph ... about using your phone ... we are so in agreement! It seems that every day that goes by I see more and more people staring into their little screens. What on earth did all these people do to occupy their mind before "smart" phones? I really do not want notifications and constant interruptions to my day (or night for that matter). :-) You know, I think change has always been with us and always will be, but don't you think things are changing faster now? ... or this that just an old age perception? Perhaps you can touch on that in a future post. I'll be looking forward to your discoveries each week!

Rhapsody said...

Blessings ....
reflecting is good, give perspective.
Letting go of the ego is a must, it just gets in the way of everything.
complete self-acceptance, embracing the I within totally the best option to aging.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Jung was wise! I had forgotten these steps of his. Thanks for the reminder!