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THE MARK OF AGE

THE MARK OF AGE

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Published by Michael Erlewine
An article on aging, learning to age successfully.
An article on aging, learning to age successfully.

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Published by: Michael Erlewine on Oct 05, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/13/2014

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THE MARK OF AGEBy Michael Erlewine (Michael@Erlewine.net)Years ago, when I was just finding myself, discoveringwho I am (like many of us do), I was bold enough to just show up at the offices of well-known persons andsimply ask to see them, or phone them without anintroduction. I did this with folks like Mircea Eliade,Hannah Arendt, and many others. Some of them weretoo stiff to share, but with others we shed tearstogether and laughed about life.One particular memory I have is that of KennethBoulding, the famous economist. I just showed up onemorning at his office at the University of Michigan andasked to see him. I told him what I was going throughand instead of freaking out, getting all formal, orrefusing to speak with me, he welcomed me into hisoffice where we talked with one another for a longtime, and shared deeply. He even read me some ofhis poetry, and I read him mine. The takeaway fromthat meeting that I will never forget is his line “Welearn to fail successfully.” What a brilliant idea, to failsuccessfully!Of course, that is what each of us who is growingolder must do. Fail we will, but we can learn to do itgracefully and, as Boulding mentioned, successfully.Yet, no one ever said it would be easy. Aging has itsproblems. To borrow from the poet Robert Frost,“There is something that doesn’t like” aging. That isan understatement.Prejudice of any kind is hard to take, especially if youend up on the short end of the stick, and there isplenty of it to go around. Age and the elderly are aparticularly easy target, one that each of us, if we arelucky to live long enough, will no-doubt encounter. We
 
may never suffer racial or religious prejudice, but theshunning and ignoring of the aged we may wellexperience. It my recent 10-day retreat, I wrote apoem on just this topic.MIXED MESSAGESNow that I am old,I carry,Etched in my face,A message of impermanence,That anyone can read.However,If you will look,Into the eyes,Of my heart,You will find that I am,Forever young.Please Don’t Shoot the Messenger.I had the very good fortune of working with a greatspiritual teacher back in the 1960s. His name wasAndrew Gunn McIver and he had been a travelingRosicrucian initiator. I met him at the very end of hislife and he taught me deeply about who I wasspiritually. In fact, as talkative as you know I am, Iseldom said a word in his presence, and I would bewith him for much of the day. When he died, I saw tohis things, his burial, and even designed hisheadstone.

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