What do we do with what we know? This subject has been on my mind heavily for a decade. Ever since I retired and was no longer hurling myself into tasks designed to serve others. The question has surfaced with mortality issues, facing ageism, grand-parenthood, legacy, and trying to navigate a completely demolished healthcare system that was unfairly designed to keep us perpetually sick. Retiring from the rat race just hurls a person into another kind of pressure with what to do with a self ripe with experience and so very few practical skills in applying said knowledge.
I learned a lot about the nuts and bolts of mortality and the problems inherent in being viable as an older individual from Stephen Jenkinson's* work. Our society doesn't groom people for elderhood. It grooms people to be productive. Once that ability is spent, we are pretty much on our own for how we will be valuable to our offspring or future generations. This is the first thing a person learns when retired and they no longer generate an income. The personal depreciation is steep and a shock. If we don't make some kind of splash in the community, generate money or spend vast amounts of it, we are of no value in a society steeped in capitalism. (For the record, I am not anti capitalism. I am anti unfair.)
We are not groomed to be elders. We are groomed to be old people with fat pockets full of cash to give our progeny in the form of presents or an estate. There is little room in that narrative for sharing the excellence of our experience, even if we do find a way to express ourselves, the world and our young are seldom willing to listen or see a value in what we can bring forward. Being older, we now KNOW things that cannot be seen from the thickets of ones younger years.
Hafiz waxes poetic on the nature of sharing the best of oneself with the world.
The chorus in the heart needs to sing
says Hafiz and we must sing the chorus of our experiences and what we have seen and understand with age. We must find a way to move past being old people and become skilled elders who are willing to tell the truth and not shy away from conflict. There is great support and need for this in humanity and communities all across the world.
Mushug means sweetheart. This is the extent of my ability to speak the Hausa language. In this poem Hafiz uses the word to express the unconditional term of endearment that consciousness holds for us all. This poem also includes the Persian word, Pir, which is the name for a Muslim, especially Sufi, holy man or religious leader.
I know it is wrong to love one child above the rest but with the near three hundred poems in this book, I truly love this one.
Thank you for listening.
Music: This song Under Pressure by David Bowie/Queen came to me while writing this. It captures this feeling of needing to be present in a world that feels too overwhelming. It is overwhelming! And really, sharing what we know, or who we are, or what can be is the greatest work we can do in our ending times. We must do what we can with what we know.
It's the terror of knowing what this world is about
Watching some good friends screaming let me out
Pray tomorrow gets me higher
Pressure on people, people on streets...
Here is an interesting little synopsis on the story behind this song.
Art by Rene Magritte
The Gift: Poems by Hafiz and translated by Daniel Ladinsky can be purchased here.
My book can be purchased HERE. E-book HERE. The Season Two blogcasts with audio excerpts from my book begin HERE: in Behind The Lines. This reading of the book excerpts in a mixed media format is Season Two of this blog. These recorded excerpts are outside the chronological order in which the book was written. Podcasts with audio only beginning with episode 22 can be found HERE.