Evolve into Elderhood: How to Know You Are on the Path
(Ten Tipping Points)
Harvey W. Austin, MD
‘Tis a far far better thing to do
Than remain adult your most life through
Become an Elder along with me
The Best of life is yet to be.
The importance of Elderhood as an influential period of life is widely overlooked. Let’s swing wide and look at Elderhood a little differently:
- The Broad View
Our masculine-focused worldwide worldview has maxed out. The pendulum has swung as far as possible and our worldview has hit its masculine maximum. Now the swing is back toward the feminine. Another way of speaking is that an evolutionary shift is occurring from the masculine You OR Me worldview to our inherent feminine You AND Me worldview.
- We Are All Female: At the Beginning and at the End
There also seems to be a pendular quality in the life-long development (ontogeny) of a human being. Carole Kammen, co-founder of The Pathways Institute Mystery School, suggested thirty years ago that the individual’s natural biologic state is female. The early fetus is female and the male genitalia do not develop until later in fetal life. For the male, a rugged maleness continues throughout the childhood and adulthood stages.
In the Elder stage, however, there is a subtle but definite reversion to the default female state, both physically and psychically. The rugged form of the male adult tends to feminize, becoming softer with a protruding belly and saggy breasts. Psychically, as the Elder male slows down, he becomes more compassionate, wiser, and more interested in taking care of others. Typically, he is easier to be around.
This view says that we begin as females. For half of us the pendulum swings to male. As we approach the last third of our lives, the pendulum swings back. If we allow it.
The critical transition from adult to Elder occurred naturally in indigenous tribes. In our culture this transition has been aborted. Our present cult of “Adulthood Triumphant to the End!” has stunted the growth of our natural and unique Third Stage of life. To become an Elder now, in the milieu of a cross-cultural loss of both tribe and family, occurs only as a deliberate creative process for both men and women.
As a result of the patriarchy and of rampant ageism, the natural wisdom and compassion of Elders has been lost to our modern culture. We have retained neither an appreciation for the wisdom of Elders, nor a gratefulness for their compassion. This loss has contributed to the threatening global issues we now face.
Elderhood is critical to our species. It defines us as a species and it shapes our pathway into the future. The loss of family as our Elder-training-ground has left a gap in our individual development and in the evolution of our species. We may have devolved.
There is a dearth of training settings for those who choose to become an Elder. We do not have a method for identifying those of us who have, against odds, managed to evolve into Elderhood. Nor have we had a way of assessing our own paths.
Ten Tipping Points
Are you just getting older? Or are you evolving into Elderhood? You can use these ten Tipping Points into Elderhood to determine where you are upon the path.
- A shift from Doing and Having to Being.
- A shift from Getting to Giving.
- A shift to from Fragmentation to Integrity.
- A shift from I to We.
- A shift from Judgment to Compassion.
- A shift from Self-centeredness to Other-centeredness.
- A shift from Contracting to Expanding.
- A shift from Debate to Inquiry.
- A shift from Needing acknowledgement to Giving acknowledgement.
- A shift from Changing to Allowing.
Consider also the following transformations that occur with Elderhood.
- An enlargement of time-frame focus from the immediacy of minutes, hours or days to a matter of years, decades or epochs.
- A shift from the day-to-day focus to legacy-thinking.
- A shift from working on ourselves as individuals to focusing on a larger self.
- A shift from the content to the context: a shift from subset to supraset.
- A shift from atheism and/or religiosity to spirituality.
- A shift from speaking to listening.
- A shift from fixing and helping to serving.
- A shift in default state from the automatic NO to a willingness to say YES.
- A shift from the fear of death to acceptance.
- A shift from safety to daring.
- A shift from the particular to the general.
- A shift from disapproval to approval.
- A shift into true humor and irony.
- A shift from pessimism to optimism.
- A shift from seriousness to a lightness of being.
Elderhood is an idea whose time has returned. Come be an Elder along with me ― the best is yet to be. Remember that Elder is not an age of life. It is a stage of life.
Harvey W. Austin, MD
Don’t Just Get Older:
Become an Elder
Utilize at will,
preferably with attribution.
“Our Elders Rock! Group has found this essay to be the core curriculum for our meetings. It covers all the bases and we need no other agenda for our ever-expanding and enthusiastic discussions”
Dr. Arleen Bump, Senior Pastor
Center for Spiritual Living, Fort Lauderdale
International Centers for Spiritual Living