Saturday, July 26, 2014


Contemplating, this, that and the other thing.....

That seems to be the way it goes these days, although I am trying to discipline myself to finish July's big task by the end of the month so I can devote August to spinning and weaving.

I have a book entitled 'Contemplative Aging - a way of being in Later Life.  It is written by a man (more on that aspect later) - Edmund Sherman, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus, State University of New York at Albany, where he was Professor of Social Welfare before his retirement.

Edmund is espousing  the meditative approach to old age.  He welcomes the 'interior' life, characterized by greater engagement in recollection and reverie, rather than in action; a 'turning away from competition and achievement toward the more elemental and sacred aspects of life'; to shift direction from the mode of doing to the mode of being.

I started to read this book a few months ago, but put it aside, being too involved in the anticipation of 'doing' and accomplishing many of the things that I seem to now have time for.  And yet it touches a chord with me -
I do have periods of great  memories;  thinking of those early formative years of my childhood, and then of the wonderful years of our marriage, and family times.  I try to cultivate a certain stillness, and  a mindfulness in all I do, but am not yet ready to sink into a Buddha like contemplation of life's meaning.

My big task this month (inspired by the approach of my 90th birthday) has been to finish working on my 'Departure Papers' - my will, my wishes, a service, all the details a family has to cope with after a 'departure' - but my reason for doing this is quite a common sense one, - I want it done and finished so I can put it aside with a feeling that it will be there when needed, and then GET ON WITH LIFE!!!!

Has anybody else got ancient enough that this way of contemplative life has occurred to them?  I think it is perhaps more prevelant in men (they don't have the care of a home to keep them busy no matter how old they are...) and probably in more scholarly men whose activity during their lifetime has been mostly in their mind and less in physical action.

But then, who knows what old men who sit on a bank and fish are thinking of during those long periods when they wait for a bite???

Anyway, I am looking forward to re-warping my loom and making some more silk rag rugs this fall, and planting some more tulip and daffodil bulbs, and getting back to fall activities - seeing friends, going out for lunch,  - but perhaps in the morning, over coffee, I will contemplate the day to come.  And in the evening, when I take my book to bed, I may drift off to thoughts of perspective and the eventual 'cosmic union with the spirit of the universe.

In the meantime my motto is Carpe Diem!!!!  In moderation, and with a faint salute to Edmund Sherman and his 'way of being in later life'.


John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I don't think that action and contemplation are mutually exclusive; many activities (and I should imagine that weaving and spinning might be amongst them) rather encourage the mind to wander onto other things. And even the busiest people should find a few moments in their hectic schedule to smell the flowers.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Such a lovely post Hildred, and one I can truly empathise with. Please take time to go to my post about Brigflatts, which I put on yesterday - you will see how I found peace and tranquility for a short time.
I have just the same attitude as you do - and I am sure it is the right one.

Morning's Minion said...

I think I would find Dr. Sherman's book depressing. As a rather quiet person I've always had a lot going on in my head while my hands have dealt with practical tasks. I seem to have become the unofficial 'keeper' of family genealogy and stories, and have a deep appreciation for the memories of the places and people of my childhood.
At 70, I'm reluctantly admitting that I must modify some of my more strenuous activities, but, like you, I intend to continue in my creative interests and goals for as long as possible.

Barb said...

Dear Hildred, I read this post to Bob. It made me smile but also produced a few tears - you always manage to get right to the heart of things. You call yourself ancient, yet you are so young at heart and so sensible and active in your approach to life. Since I'm 20 years younger, I consider you a role model of how I would like to age, given the chance. I'm a quiet person and spend time daily by myself, not necessarily in a state of quiet contemplation, though being mindful (and showing more kindness) are ongoing goals. I remain physically active, enjoying time with family and close friends, but I also take time to read and just think. That is one of the perks of aging - a less hectic time of life when stress is kept to a minimum and small achievements are quietly celebrated. (I looked for the book on Kindle, but it isn't offered.)

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I am not quite ready yet for Dr Sherman's book, but I might order it for later (maybe next year ;>)! I would rather have a book written by Hildred though. Because I think she is more of a role model for how I want to age. (Barb in the comment above said how I feel much better than I can.)

I have said that when I get old I plan to sit in my rocker and read my travel journals. Last time I said that someone said "when?". (As in "i think you are already old and should probably crank up that rocking chair lady!". But not quite yet!!

Hildred said...

Thank you all so much for comments. Good health contributes a lot to happy aging, and I am truly grateful for that!! John, I do agree with you about contemplation while you do even the most menial tasks, and certainly spinning and the actual process of weaving lend themselves to lovely meditation. Your Brigflatts post is inspiring, Pat - I guess the answer is everything in moderation and while you cultivate contemplation and mindfulness you mustn't forget to live life to its fullest, within your capabilities. A little of this, a little of that and the world keeps twirling....