Ten Tipping Points to Elderhood

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:

  1. 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.


  1. 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.


Adulthood Everlasting

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.

  1. A shift from Doing and Having to Being.
  2. A shift from Getting to Giving.
  3. A shift to from Fragmentation to Integrity.
  4. A shift from I to We.
  5. A shift from Judgment to Compassion.
  6. A shift from Self-centeredness to Other-centeredness.
  7. A shift from Contracting to Expanding.
  8. A shift from Debate to Inquiry.
  9. A shift from Needing acknowledgement to Giving acknowledgement.
  10. A shift from Changing to Allowing.


Consider also the following transformations that occur with Elderhood.


  1. An enlargement of time-frame focus from the immediacy of minutes, hours or days to a matter of years, decades or epochs.
  2. A shift from the day-to-day focus to legacy-thinking.
  3. A shift from working on ourselves as individuals to focusing on a larger self.
  4. A shift from the content to the context: a shift from subset to supraset.
  5. A shift from atheism and/or religiosity to spirituality.
  6. A shift from speaking to listening.
  7. A shift from fixing and helping to serving.
  8. A shift in default state from the automatic NO to a willingness to say YES.
  9. A shift from the fear of death to acceptance.
  10. A shift from safety to daring.
  11. A shift from the particular to the general.
  12. A shift from disapproval to approval.
  13. A shift into true humor and irony.
  14. A shift from pessimism to optimism.
  15. 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.

Live it.

Love it.



Harvey W. Austin, MD


Elders Rock!

 Don’t Just Get Older:

 Become an Elder



 Comments invited.

Creative Commons.

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

Former President

International Centers for Spiritual Living



First BlogSpot Interview Was Terrific!

I was just interviewed by a delightful licensed psychotherapist, James Miller, on BlogTalk Radio.

The show’s title is, Celebrating Your Life as You Age:  Become an Elder.  It is my first interview since Amazon listed Elders Rock! in hard copy.  The both of us had great fun and I sound like an exuberant youth on a mission ― full of fire.

Please click on my Speaker Page http://speaker.eldersrock.com.   It’s 25 minutes long and quite dynamic. (You can skip the first two minutes of commercial.


Elders Rock! Now in Hard Copy

“ELDERS ROCK! Don’t Just Get Older: Become An Elder”

“To Be An Elder Means to Live Life in Full-Bloom”

 “The purpose of this powerful book is to restore humanity’s natural Third Stage of Life ― Elder.”


Elders Rock! Group

Our Elders Rock! Group in Fort Lauderdale has two great notions: Our world needs the Wisdom of Elders. And we need Elders to teach Elders to teach Elders to teach … and so on. Three months ago two of us initiated such a Group at the Center for Spiritual Living in Fort Lauderdale.

There are no models, so we are making it up as we go along. We are excited to be pioneers in the restoration of Elder as our natural Third Stage of Life.

Here’s our thinking:

Our world has been run by mere adults without Elder Supervision for too long. Our world with its immature You OR Me worldview leaves many of us out. That worldview has led to our present world of sexism, of racism and ageism. As Einstein told us, “The world we have now is a function of the thinking we have done to date.” And that thinking, at its most basic, rests on an immature worldview, a You OR Me paradigm, with its underlying assumptions of separation and perceived shortages.

A world that includes the Wise Elder would have a different worldview ―a You AND Me worldview, a paradigm of inclusion, compassion and sufficiency. A world that works for everyone with no one and nothing left out.


I woke up one morning with a message. From that space between asleep and awake, the hypnagogic space, I awoke with this, “Bring back Elder. Write a book.”

“Sure.  What’s an Elder?”

The first book I could find on Amazon with ‘Elder’ in the title was In the Arms of Elders by one William H. Thomas, M.D. I loved it. I was inspired. Encouraged, I wrote my book and sent an early draft to Bill. He liked my ideas but said “. . . it just isn’t a book yet.”   It wasn’t. Now it is. Due for release, it is titled, Elders Rock! Don’t Just Get Older: Become an Elder.

But it takes more than one person, more than one book, to restore Elder as our natural Third Stage of life. Dr. Arleen Bump, Senior Pastor of the Center for Spiritual Living read it. “Dr. Thomas is right. And you also are right. Let’s form an Elder Group at the Center.”


Our growing Elder group of eighteen has met four times and each of us has declared, “I am an Elder!”   Our ages range from 52 to 85. We have varied backgrounds but our commonality is what matters. Each of us has long known we were committed to making a difference. The group works with the wisdom attributes of Elder – Compassion, Listening and Acceptance. We are inspired by the Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

We have two events scheduled – a Reception and Book Signing for Elders Rock! On December 4.

The second event is our strong support of Dr. Bill’s Age of Disruption evening here in Fort Lauderdale on November 6. Go Bill!                                       507 words.

Introduction to “Pop’s Advice”


Introduction to Pop’s Advice


It is a small truth that “Every journey begins with a single step.”

A larger truth is, “Every journey begins with the destination clear.”

Each of us has a destination in our life we have created, usually by default. If you live inside an unconscious default destination, it better be a good one. The accompanying blog entry, Pop’s Advice, is the story of one of these good ones, and for me it was a great one.

I suggest there is a better way than counting on a smart father’s advice. Instead consciously choose a future, throw it ‘out there’, tell the world about it, and allow it then to pull you into itself. One single step at a time.

It is never too late to create consciously. Best get at it.

Pop’s Advice

Patients sometimes ask how I became a cosmetic surgeon.

Early on I had a stock answer that made the decision sound logical. I told them that I had become a cosmetic surgeon because of careful choices at various forks in the road. The first fork, I used to say, was in medical school, when I had to choose between advanced study in medicine or in surgery. I chose surgery because by temperament I’m a results-oriented, “get it done and do it well” kind of guy. This worked well for me because surgery, in contrast to internal medicine, had a clear path with a definite beginning, middle and end.  The next fork was to choose plastic surgery because its precise nature required excellent hand-eye coordination. And I had that aplenty.

All that was true enough, but the story really started long before medical school. It had its roots in an after-dinner conversation with my father shortly after my twentieth birthday.  I was in my second undergraduate year at the University of Massachusetts and had come home for the Christmas holidays.

After dinner we sat, blue stuffed chairs facing each other in our tiny living room.  “Pop, I have a problem.”

“What’s that?” he replied, alarmed.

“It’s serious.  I have to declare a major and I have no idea what I want to be.”

“Oh, is that all? That’s easy.”

“No, Pop, it’s not easy. You don’t understand. I have to declare a major and I have no idea, none at all, what I want to be.”

“I understood you. I said it was easy”.

I resented his cavalier attitude toward what I saw as a monumental decision, one that would set the course for the rest of my life. Almost everyone in my class was facing the same dilemma, and we were in knots. Pop hadn’t finished high school so what could he know? Probably nothing, I thought.  However, with two years of college experience I considered myself tolerant. So I humored him as only a twenty-year-old can humor a father grown stupid.  “Easy, huh? So tell me.”

“Okay”, he said, “it’s simple. Look at what you like to do when you don’t have anything else you have to do. What are those things that you’re good at? That you fall back on and turn to when you’re just hanging around?”

I was a intrigued. “Well, I like to read. That’s the main thing.”

He smiled. I had a reputation for always having my nose in a book.

“I like to draw stuff. You know, sketch. And I go down to the basement and tie fishing flies.” I hesitated. “And I think about women.” I blurted. I was both embarrassed to admit it and more embarrassed that I had only thought about women.

Pop took my confession in stride. “O.K. You read. You sketch. You tie fishing flies. And you think about women. That’s what you do when there’s nothing else you have to do?”

“Yeah,” I answered, feeling defensive.

“Great!” Pop said.   “So that’s the stuff that’s easy for you and that you’re good at.  That’s the stuff you’d almost pay someone to let you do, yes?  So all you have to do is find a way to make a living out of one or more of those things and you’ll have it made.”  He smiled.  “And, with a little effort, you’ll be way ahead of the pack.”

I was deeply impressed.  What he said  made sense. For about 30 seconds I shared his enthusiasm.  Then I realized that no one was going to pay me to sit around and read,  that I was too colorblind to become  an artist and there was no money in tying fishing flies.  And what did he think I was going to with that woman thing, become a pimp?

“You’re sure that’s how I should figure out what I should become?”

“Why not?” he replied and he arose, slow and deliberate, and strolled into the kitchen.  He turned once, just a little, to smile over his shoulder.

Pop and I never mentioned that conversation again.  Over the years I enjoyed telling it as a funny story about my father.   One day – thirty years later – in the midst of telling it, I realized something: I was a cosmetic surgeon!

Suddenly I saw it.   I read medical journals constantly.  I sketched my patients’ faces to give them an idea how they might look. I used fine thread to close their incisions with tiny ties and stitches.  And, because more than ninety percent of my patients were women, I thought about them all the time.

I was stunned.  My mind worked hard to come up with another career that could have combined all four ― nothing. I abruptly knew that we had created my future in that conversation. My father had always wanted a life for me that was special and that night he had helped me bring it about. Not by offering advice about what he thought I should do, but by asking me to go within, look, and speak my personal truth. At the time, neither of us was aware of the power of that conversation. Yet it set the course of my life.

That conversation … and its resultant journey … was a vivid demonstration that it is the future that pulls rather than the past that pushes.  By setting a bold vision for the future and being willing for it to unfold, I created a life that has been true, free and full of endless enthusiasm.  While the past may be indeed interesting and informative, it is neither imaginative nor creative. We create a great life by imagining a future and casting that vision into the future.  Then we allow that vision to pull us into itself.

A magnificent vision for the future can create a magnificent life.

Thank you, Pop, long since passed.  I love you.

Harvey Austin 2014

Reproduce at Will with Attribution

The Death of Elder

The Death of Elder

The role of Elder may be more important than either our famous opposable thumb or our sparkling neocortex in defining humanity as a species. Our blindness to that possibility may have destroyed our future.

Einstein said that the world we have now is a perfect correlate with the thinking humanity has done so far. The present state of the world, with its You OR Me paradigm, has been sourced by a pair of false assumptions ― that there are shortages and that we are not connected. These are the false assumptions of a worldwide culture run by Adult, a culture dominated by a cult of adulthood, as geriatrician and author William H. Thomas proposes.

Adult-think is based upon doing and asks, “Can we?” Elder-think, grounded in being, asks, “Should we?” Elder-think is wise, has a long view and is inclusive, based upon love and compassion for all. Elder has a view of a world that works for everyone with no one and nothing left out. It lives within a You AND Me paradigm.

The third stage of life, Elder, is the stage for which our first two stages, Youth and Adult, were intended to prepare us. Adult-think has become so prevalent, so cancerous, that we no longer have an Elder stage. Our precious and species-unique Elder stage has been lost, co-opted by Adult.

Without the instant restoration of our natural Elder stage, with its inherent wisdom, we may have no stages at all: we will no longer exist as a species. The Adult’s destruction of our very nest will be looked back upon by some rare and wise cave-dweller with terrible sadness.

Consider a tree in spring. The new leaves are the green of Youth. The trunk and branches are the Adult. The stabilizing and nourishing roots are the Elder. Humanity is a tree without roots. It will topple in the next high wind.

That storm is rapidly upon us, boiling on the near horizon, visible to all who will look. The loss of Elder as our cherished stage of wisdom has placed our species in great peril. The price for our immaturity will be high indeed. We will be gone.

We must have Elder restored as our natural third stage of life – Wise, Compassionate and Cherished.

Reproduce at Will with Attribution.