by Ron Pevny
As I write this on the morning after the U.S. election, I am dealing with a nearly overwhelming mix of feelings and thoughts, a caldron of inner chaos as I try to understand the dynamics driving our country at this critical time in history. And I find it important to reflect on how these dynamics relate to the message of conscious eldering that is my primary service to the world. I feel a need to write this today as my affirmation to myself and to Life of my willingness to shine my light in the darkness, and my trust that doing so makes a difference. I encourage us all to continue our commitment to tangible actions that affirm our trust.
Throughout this seemingly endless election cycle, I have tried to look beneath political ideologies and personal characteristics to see the types of consciousness that are at play in the polarization in modern society. And alas, I recognize that same polarization within me—a conflict that I experience as essentially a struggle between fear and trust.
I have seen my inclination to see and expect the worst, and how easily fear arises within me. When fear predominates, my moods, attitudes, choices, and perceptions are colored by it, and I feel disempowered, vulnerable, and hopeless. I become self-absorbed, my heart closes, I see others as enemies, and my vision of the larger picture is constricted. My energy goes toward holding on to a familiar past rather than embracing the possibilities of an unfamiliar future. When such survival consciousness reigns supreme in me, I lose sight of the expanded life that is possible for me and others.
In strong contrast, when trust is strongly present, I am hopeful, I feel strong, my heart is open. I am in touch with the best in me and others, so that I can support myself and others in contributing our best to creating a healthy world in which we all thrive. The actions I take seem to be more likely to help build bridges than to further strengthen walls.
For me, a critical aspect of my own work of growing toward a conscious elderhood has been working to strengthen trust that I and the world around me are agents for a strong evolutionary impulse towards the creation of a transformed world, and that as such we are all supported by a loving, wise power much greater than our fearful personalities. My challenge when I find myself being ruled by the spiritually deadening energy of fear has been to remember those experiences of support that have been crucial aspects of my life, remembering how they felt as they stirred my body, mind, and spirit. My most important daily growth practice is to spend a few silent moments each morning, outdoors or at my altar, before engaging in any other activities, remembering and affirming that I am supported and that I can grow and thrive only when my heart and mind are open and my trust is stronger than fear. I commit to living in trust that day, dealing with the physical realities of my life while recognizing fear when it arises but not giving my true power to it. And slowly but surely my tendency toward fear is being replaced by a deep trust in life and the mysterious, unfamiliar LIFE we are all invited to embrace as we face the challenges of these times and the challenges that our aging will inevitably send our way.
Using whatever ways work for us, I believe our commitment to conscious aging requires us to strive to be aware and intentional of the consciousness—fear or trust, survival or thrival—that we choose to feed each day. Do we feed our bodies, minds, and spirits food, images, activities and relationships that bring out the best in ourselves and others? Or do we feed the consciousness of fear that closes our hearts, numbs our spirits, and blinds our vision?
Strengthening the consciousness of trust is possible. It takes commitment and effort, but I believe it is crucial if—rather than just surviving—we are to thrive as hopeful, inclusive, resilient, big-hearted elders, and to do our part to help create a hopeful, inclusive, resilient, compassionate society. Doing so is what can help us remember that there is indeed a fountain that can bring us solace and strength when hope feels lost.
Don’t say, don’t say there is no water
to solace the dryness at our hearts.
I have seen
the fountain springing out of the rock wall
and you drinking there. And I too
before your eyes
found footholds and climbed
to drink the cool water.
The woman of that place, shading her eyes,
frowned as she watched-but not because
she grudged the water,
only because she was waiting
to see we drank our fill and were
Don’t say, don’t say there is no water.
That fountain is there among its scalloped
green and gray stones,
it is still there and always there
with its quiet song and strange power
to spring in us,
up and out through the rock.
By Denise Levertov
Ron Pevny is Founding Director of the Center for Conscious Eldering, based in Durango, Colorado. He is also a Certified Sage-ing® Leader, is the author of Conscious Living, Conscious Aging published by Beyond Words/Atria Books, and serves as the host/interviewer for the Transforming Aging Summits presented by The Shift Network. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org