Yesterday I was invited to give a talk to members of our local University of the Third Age about “Ageing and Sageing.” This invitation resulted from the events of last year when I had the privilege of hosting Gary and Charolotte Carlson of Sage-ing International who live in Alburqueque, New Mexico. They volunteered to visit Cape Town after their tour of the Kruger National Park so that we could share our experience and knowledge of the process of Eldering. We had been interacting over the internet, but this would be the first time we would meet. The Carlsons offered to facilitate some workshops to give Capetownians the benefits of their international experience and teaching.
In my presentation yesterday, I spoke about the pioneering work of Rabbi Zalman which he describes so eloquently in his book entitled “Ageing and Sageing.” The foundation of his philosophy can be summed up in the following words, “What is the point of an extended life, if we do not develop an extended consciousness?” He further states, “Fortunately our culture’s limited view of ageing is undergoing a profound reconceptualization. We are the first generation to apply the insights of humanistic and transpersonal psychology and contemplative techniques from our spiritual traditions to the ageing process itself, giving birth to what some people call the conscious ageing movement.
It so happened that yesterday was the first day that my new website called A Mind of Grace was ready to launch. I feel this is propitious. Whilst Zalman passed away at the beginning of the technological revolution, he could never have foreseen the possibility that the process of blogging may form an integral part of the “ageing and sageing” process. I am looking forward to experimenting with this opportunity to blog and share ideas with an international audience. I believe the process is intimately tied up to my intention of practicing the art of conscious eldering.
This morning I had a further opportunity to practice some ‘sageing skills’. The process of transforming South African schools from the dynamics of the apartheid era to the more progressive approach of our new democracy is proving extremely challenging. My domestic worker took a seat in my study when she arrived today to talk to me about her strong emotional reaction to a story that appeared in this morning’s Cape Times. A local school, which under the apartheid system was reserved for white learners, now has learners of all races. An unfortunate incident was reported in today’s newspaper about an altercation between a learner and a teacher which took place a few days ago at a local school. It has involved a degree of violence by the pupil when she shoved her desk towards the teacher, who then retaliated with physical blows to the learner. The events had been widely reported on social media. Albertina has two daughters; a teenager, and another daughter in her early twenties. She was particularly disturbed by this altercation, because of the violence involved and complains that today’s children have no respect for their parents, She perceives this problem to exist amongst her children’s generation of school goers.
I had recently watched the moving TED video entitled, “My son was a Columbine shooter. This is my story.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xfyN-yBZ7c The mother’s poignant recount of healing during the past 20 years since this shocking incident, may help Albertina to realise that rebellion amongst school children is not a new phenomenon. She recognised the pain that this mother had worked with during the intervening years. That she had come to some degree of equanimity and acceptance. I hope that my novel form of therapy may assist my employee to come to terms with the difficult relationship sometimes encountered between parents and their children.
I do believe that part of the sageing process is to keep in touch with the responsibilities of the mothers of today, as well as the current challenges faced by children of this generation