Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Teachings from 70 year olds and other elders

I just saw some research the other day on older people realizing body and mental states more slowly than younger people.  It wouldn't surprise me since I already believe that reflexes slow down.  But as I read the research, I wondered if other aspects of older people were getting due consideration.

I admire and enjoy the writings of Sylvia Boorstein, author of several books including the one with the neat title: "Don't Just Do Something, Sit There".  She is a psychotherapist and teacher/practitioner of applied meditation and Buddhist principles.  She is a grandmother and seems to be very adept at comforting people and encouraging them to see themselves and the world clearly.  In her book "It's Easier Than You Think", she discusses what she learned from her older student and friend, Alma.  She reports that she was often relieved to see that the fretful issue on her mind did not seem to be a very big deal to her friend.  

I read of a cartoon depicting two older men in their club.  One has just entered and sees a headline that there is fighting in the Balkans.  These were World War 1 veterans and that very bloody war started with an assassination in the Balkans.  One of the men is saying to the other,"This is where I came in."  Older folks know that the comment relates to the practice in old movie houses where the movie was shown continuously. People often came in to see the show at some point other than the beginning.  Once a viewer realized he had now seen the entire movie, he would leave.

It is well known that older people often serve as examples of wisdom.  As with Alma, they are often rather calm about something that can seem quite upsetting.  Yes, their reactions might be slower but remember, they may have seen the whole thing before.  It may be rather old stuff, just another round of a familiar loop.  It is comforting to know that they have been through this before and come out of it all right.

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