It’s Christmas! I’m staying in, actually I’m a shut-in, celebrating in my own way. This time of year — add being sick, and alone, amounts to slowing down. This is a wondrous time to reflect. My mind could go back to the year I’ve just lived through, or travel further back to other Christmas scenes, but instead it is riveted upon this moment, wondering what all the uncertainty I feel portends.
This is ostensibly the beginning of a New Year. I wonder, will there be anything truly new about the New Year? The election continues to resonate. There is a lot of uncertainty in the air. The emotional tides are high. It seems that many of the old horrors are being warmed up. It is a time rich with feelings, fears, anxieties and apprehensions. There is an aura of teetering that colors the yuletide cheer. Going forward or going back, over the cliff or around it, becoming closer or more divided? — the moment quivers.
I’ve heard so many times this is the moment to stand up. Values are on the line, possibly the planet, certainly how we feel about each other, and ourselves. So much seems to be at stake.
I feel peculiarly out of step with the times. I am nervous, like many people, but I feel a sense of expectancy, like I’m participating in some kind of birth phenomena. The unknown, I sense, is delivering to us something unimaginable. I don’t know what is here. I don’t have a name for it. I don’t know how to greet what is taking shape. Strangely, I can feel it happening in the midst of all the rehashed actions that are being called for. Evolution is taking the mess we (humans) currently are, and working us into a different shape.
It is times like this that I find myself wanting to pause, like this holiday season is helping me do, and turn to that rarest of wisdom’s for guidance. Here, I’m not referring to the wisdom of the past, the wisdom of tradition and what we know, but the unknown wisdom of the present. It is the degree of bafflement in the air that arouses in me a sense of wonder, expectancy, and a desire to be open and wait. I am poised at a vibrating threshold. How I comport myself now will determine in some way what I will meet. This is a quantum moment, what I find, will be determined by my expectations, thus I want to be as open and as free of assumptions as possible.
It is at times like this when I feel so strongly the pull of not-knowing. There is such a spaciousness in the unknown, a darkness that is rich with possibility, a creativity that is guided by the formless. This is what I want to stand for. There is a miraculousness afoot, which doesn’t depend at all upon the election results, but becomes palpable when one opens up to the larger Mystery — of what is going on here. Let’s stop pretending we really know what’s happening. All of the certainty, ideological nightmares, and historical references are apt, but insufficient to this time. They are good for stirring up fear, anxiety, and hatred, but not very good for soberly leaning into the moment.
I am growing old. I’m not as interested, as I once was, in chasing my tail. Now, each moment has grown more precious, and I want to meet it, as it is. In being dragged around the block by Life, as many older folks have been, I’ve learned to open myself to each moment, to spend some time with it, to let it be, and to relish what is unknown about it. Life has introduced me to a whole set of unforeseen possibilities, I would have passed by many of them, because they looked familiar. Now, I come to this moment, with continued reverence for the Mystery that brought me here, ready to be surprised anew. Not-knowing releases me into the moment, it allows me to experience what is, and shields me from the tides of emotional upheaval that I am surrounded by.
There is one other thing I want to be sure to mention before I stop for this Christmas day. Not-knowing isn’t only good for calming the emotional waters, but is essential for re-enchanting the world. Magic dwells in the spirits of those, most generally elders, who are savvy enough to know, that they know enough, to know, they don’t know very much. There is a form of elder innocence that forms late in life. It isn’t like the innocence of childhood, based upon an ignorance of the world; in elder life it is giving up on relying upon adult like certainty, and meeting the world naked in a different way.
The miraculous nature of Life is obscured by too much knowing. Not-knowing wisdom frees the imagination, releases potential, and honors what does not want to be changed by fickle human emotions. To recognize the blindness knowing brings, means liberating all that has suffered the slavery of human hubris. The world is enchanting, and so is this uncertain moment in our nation’s history. Something is happening, and let’s wait and see what it is.
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For more pieces like this, go to http://www.elderssalon2.blogspot.com (2014 on)
To hear archived versions of our radio program Growing An Elder Culture go to www.elderculture.com
To read excerpts, or otherwise learn, about Embracing Life: Toward A Psychology of Interdependence go to http://www.davidgoff.net