“ The groove is so mysterious. We’re born with it and we lose it and the world seems to split apart before our eyes into stupid and cool. When we get it back, the world unifies around us, and both stupid and cool fall away. I am grateful to those who are keepers of the groove. The babies and the grandmas who hang on to it and help us remember when we forget that any kind of dancing is better than no dancing at all. “ Lynda Barry
What is that groove, and what is it about babies and grandmas that hang onto it and help us remember?
The groove is eros, that intangible and delicious energy that arises when we fully embrace life. It’s natural for babies, and it’s acquired for grandma. Often, in the course of her life, a grandmother has lost the groove for a while, and suffered the heartache of living without it, so that she calls it back in as she grows older. She comes to know what is most important.
Eros was the Greek god of love and sexual desire, who was also worshiped as a fertility god, believed to be a contemporary of the primeval Chaos, which makes Eros one of the oldest gods.
Eros is usually depicted as a young winged cherub boy, with his bow and arrows ready to either shoot into the hearts of gods or mortals to arouse passion in them. His arrows came in two types: golden with dove feathers which aroused love, or leaden arrows which had owl feathers that caused indifference.
That is the great invitation of aging—-to respond with grace and daring to the passion (the joy and the suffering) of life so that you can continue to experience eror and remain fully relevant.
Richard Rohr, in his beautifully written book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality For The Two Halves Of Life, says that we are a “first half of life culture. “ What he means is that our adolescent American culture focuses on the survival dance of building the container during the first half of life—self-confidence, drive, and carving a path forward. It’s all about insuring that you have enough, and finding a way to hold onto what you have and keep growing.
In the second half of life we are called to learn the sacred dance of life that we once experienced as a baby, but this time, consciously. The task is to fill the container—with self-compassion, fulfilling a deeper purpose, and being fully present, as you let go more and more. Indeed, aging itself is a story of loss and renewal, and each time we come to the crossroads and surrender yet more to the deeper calling of the second half of life, we choose love, rather than indifference, which builds the power of eros in a person’s life. Aging offers you the opportunity to get really groovy!!!
The psychologist Erik Erikson proposed that the ego develops as it successfully resolves crises that are distinctly social in nature and which involve establishing a sense of trust in others, developing a sense of identity in society, and helping the next generation prepare for the future. See the chart below:
The elder years (elder is“an influential member of a tribe or community, often a chief or ruler; a superior in age and wisdom.“) concern the bottom two stages on Erikson’s chart.
Erik Erikson believed if we see our lives as unproductive, feel guilt about our past, or feel that we did not accomplish our life goals, we become dissatisfied with life and develop despair, often leading to depression and hopelessness. You can see how essential it is to fulfill the tasks of each stage, as generativity vs. stagnation is the challenge of ages 40-65—a time when many people are deeply questioning their purpose.
As you can see, the challenge for those 65 and older is integrity vs. despair—-like the two arrows from the bow of Eros. To successfully resolve this stage leads a person to acquire wisdom, and the ability to look back on life with a sense of closure and completeness, as well as to accept death without fear.
This upcoming workshop For Elders: Answering The Call To Leave A Legacy of Love is the first of its kind for me, and I am excited to offer it with my friend Bill Weimar, a cohort on the path of eros.
This workshop is for you if:
- You feel it in your bones how all things connect, and that there is a greater purpose to the suffering—-that nothing is random.
- Your head spins at times, at the speed of the world, and yet, you remain a part of it, continuing to learn.
- You have earned the wisdom that allows your heart to break so that you can continue to grow in love.
- You want to teach, share, give to the world in a way that you couldn’t do until know.
- You are ready to create the masterpiece of your life from a place of humility and love.
Together we gather (I was born in 1952) to reveal something ancient within ourselves, for the sake of this planet. We have experienced LOVE NOT WAR, and we know that the one who ends the war is the winner.
Imagine a place where you can get real about what is in your heart as an elder, and be held in a circle of deep acceptance—-actually to have your peers behold you as you are, as you walk your own destiny, with the perspective of a lifetime.
This will be an in-person workshop in Alexandria,VA on January 27, 1-6 PM.
My intention is to offer it online eventually, but I have come to value the powerful learning each time I gather in person to birth a vision.
To register, sign up here: For Elders: Answering The Call To Leave A Legacy of Love.
If you are interested in an online version, by all means get in touch.