Elder Wisdom


Looking back over the last 50-60 years I am astonished by all the deep changes in the way we live. The information available from us older folks on how to do simple everyday things is encyclopedic and in fact foreign to most of our current Western urban/suburban society. All the people that live in a place where electricity goes out for a week at a time will still know most of this. Most of the rest of us may not have the skills we need to be fine under those circumstances. This leads me to suggest dusting off some old skills and hooking up with people who do know how to live well unplugged.

Moving to a farm as a child gave me the basic experiences of doing it all at home. The farm still had an outhouse, a wood burning cook stove, a parlor stove, a hand pump, a dug well, and a smoke house (the tightest building on the place). Even though I didn’t appreciate it at the time, this was one of the most profound times of basic learning I experienced. Those lessons don’t go away. They are in my body as physical memories. When ever I am placed in a situation where I need to access this information, it is there. Sometimes I can’t remember it in my head, but when asked about it or placed in a similar situation, I am triggered into total recall. This rises from my body, not my mind…like riding a bike.

This knowledge is safety and security. When you know how to prepare food from scratch, sew on a button or make a garment, create a shelter, tell time with a compass or tell direction with a watch, gather food and build a fire, you feel safer in the world. Knowing that each basic item we have can help make something else is useful. The old game of “What would you want to take with you to have on a deserted island?” is a good thought experiment! Actual hands on experience is even more valuable.

Here’s a suggestion for this year and all the years to come: learn something basic every month. If you had one match, how do you make sure you could start a fire? What are the basic skills, the rock bottom ideas that could sustain you if you were tossed out into this world naked? Interesting thought! What would you put in a backpack if you had to leave your home in 10 minutes and never go back?

My first idea? Look for others. Then comes: Trust Life, trust Spirit, be in the moment and remain aware. Allow your instincts to lead you, and when all else seems too weird to manage, make food. “Stone Soup” really works! When you follow the thread of  ‘OK, what’s next?’ everything will flow from that. Staying present and in the moment keeps all the ‘What If’s’ at bay.

In these Change Times the idea of only focusing on what’s next and putting all your energy in that moment by moment experience will free you and keep all the negative worry thoughts out of the picture. You are only responsible for NOW, so just make that the very best possible now, and keep on keeping on. In tough times the only thing you have total control over is your attitude. Make it a good one! I start my day with five excellent words such as : Love, Joy, Abundance, Gratitude, and Peace. I refer to these every time I get into downer thoughts. Believe it or not, this improves my life day by day. It just takes willingness to turn your thoughts to something else! And this is also the very basics of living well –  no matter what!

If nothing else comes to mind, sing a good old song that lifts you up and connects you to others. “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream…”

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