Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner


Originally posted on January 21, 2011

Might there be a role for “wise-elders”? The word, “crone” has been used, mainly for a woman wise-elder, and some have included men in that role, but I think wise-elder is more inclusive of both genders. Anyway, at a certain age, gender considerations still obtain—such as for some in the realms of romance and sexuality—; in many other life roles, though, these variables of what is more masculine or feminine hardly apply—if at all. It can and should be a time in life in which the integrative process balances what used to be distributed according to gender This is also what is spoken of in wisdom literature, the depth psychology of later life (as Jung writes about it, for example), in alchemy, etc. (See my webpages on deep maturity.)

For your consideration, I invite comments on this thesis: I discern three levels of wisdom-ing. At the beginning of the journey, the seeds of wisdom involve knowing that there is a life-time journey that is worthy of traveling, and that it involves mind, spirit, body, and perhaps even community. This knowledge starts one off, and perhaps a variety of readings and meetings carry it forward.

The middle journey is rather interesting. It’s hard to say what ages these apply to, for some folks begin at a younger age and others awaken to the journey late in life. The beauty of this journey is that actual age doesn’t matter, only the process itself. The criteria that differs beginning, middle, and advance wise-eldering may be ambiguous. There’s no authority for judging this, except perhaps the person’s own sense of the journey itself. At this middle area, one knows one is no longer just a beginner. Some adventures have already happened, along with a sense of having processed and integrated a variety of workshops, insights, breakthroughs, transformations, understandings, and the like. Yet one does not yet feel empowered or enlightened.

The advanced journey, being a senior wise-elder, is ambiguous, also. At some point one knows that there is a certain degree of closure, of readiness to mentor others. There is a continuing awareness of a potential for further growth and transformation—there’s always more to learn—always. But there’s less of a drive or sense of need to discover whatever it will take to confer a sense of life’s meaning and a degree of equanimity.

Some people are almost there, they have searched, grown, yet haven’t yet grown to a point of empowering themselves, of simply waking up to what they know. It’s not book-learning, either. I think wisdom must include a fair amount of kindness and compassion. It is more than cleverness or mere erudition. (For some, there may not be that much book-learning, but yet a good deal of life-wisdom instead.)

One implication is that it offers a certain kind of role to those who are older, less “up” on the latest gadgets—they’re coming so fast that I don’t know if anyone can keep up except in a few special domains—; but they’ve used their time to begin to reflect a bit and need to know that many of the younger (and middle) generation have been so caught up in the mixture of realistic role demands (work, money, family, chores), diversified hobbies, interests and involvements, and illusory temptations and distractions that they haven’t taken the time to reflect much. Nor is there much in the mainstream media that supports deeper levels of reflection and dialogue. I see wise-eldering as filling a cultural-ecological niche in this way.

I’m open to comments as to what could further fill out this idea, or what should be revised.

One Response to “Wise-Eldering”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *