“It happens fast for some people and slow for some, accidents or gravity, but we all end up mutilated. Most women know this feeling of being more and more invisible everyday.”
– Chuck Palahniuk
I have to admit, it always surprises me a bit when people comment on my blog, or when people who know me and read my blog, stop me on the street to comment. I guess sitting here typing feels a bit like I’m in a vacuum, and then getting the affirmation that there are actually people out there reading this – well it’s a bit startling.
At any rate, my last post on aging seemed to have resonated with quite a few people, so I decided to continue my research. And I was glad I did, because I came upon this wonderfully inspirational talk by Jane Fonda, entitled Life’s Third Act. In this talk, Ms. Fonda uses the analogy of life as a staircase:
“I have come to find that a more appropriate metaphor for aging is a staircase – the upward ascension of the human spirit, bringing us into wisdom, wholeness and authenticity. Age not at all as pathology; age as potential.”
I love that – Age not as pathology, but as potential.
That was what I heard from the women and men who commented on my last post, either in person or on the site. That people, as they are aging, are tending toward emabracing life even more.
I also loved her reference to neuroplasticity:
“Perhaps the central purpose of the third actis to go back and to try, if appropriate,to change our relationship to the past. It turns out that cognitive research shows when we are able to do this, it manifests neurologically – neural pathways are created in the brain. You see, if you have, over time, reacted negatively to past events and people, neural pathways are laid down by chemical and electrical signals that are sent through the brain. And over time, these neural pathways become hardwired, they become the norm – even if it’s bad for us because it causes us stress and anxiety.
If however, we can go back and alter our relationship, re-vision our relationship to past people and events, neural pathways can change. And if we can maintain the more positive feelings about the past, that becomes the new norm. It’s like resetting a thermostat. It’s not having experiences that make us wise, it’s reflecting on the experiences that we’ve had that makes us wise – and that helps us become whole, brings wisdom and authenticity. It helps us become what we might have been.”
I circle back now to Chuck Palahniuk’s quote: Most women know this feeling of being more and more invisible everyday. This feeling is deeply explored in my book: A Woman’s Guite to Transformation- perhaps it’s central theme. So that quote resonates deeply for me. But if as we age, we can redefine ourselves and our relationships, imagine the liberation!
“Women start off whole, don’t we? We are the subjects of our own lives. But very often, many, if not most of us, when we hit puberty, we start worrying about fitting in and being popular. And we become the subjects and objects of other people’s lives. But now, in our third acts, it may be possible for us to circle back to where we started and know it for the first time. And if we can do that, it will not just be for ourselves. Older women are the largest demographic in the world. If we can go back and redefine ourselves and become whole, this will create a cultural shift in the world, and it will give an example to younger generations so that they can reconceive their own lifespan.”
So this reclaiming of self, this changing of our relationship to the past, can have a wider impact than simply rewiring our own brain, it can perhaps create a cultural shift in the world! Wow. How cool is that!
So to quote my old high school friend Doug Haussler: Here’s to aging with adventure!
I hope you enjoy Jane Fonda’s Ted Talk, especially for those women out there over 50. Such a hopefull message!
And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.