You cannot remember when you first noticed it.
What was the first sign?
There was a time not long ago
When the symptoms were not apparent,
And you could not humble yourself
To the wisdom it offered.

But now you feel
The intensity, awe, and humility
Of that sacred energy moving through you.
After all these years,
You finally sense the presence of
The wild and feral energy
That will guide you,
Transfigure you,
Make you tremble,
And, inevitably,
Destroy you.
This is your inheritance,
Your gift,
And your fate.

Embodiment is time made visible,
And the essence of time is impermanence.
Learn to embrace your life knowing that
You are perishable.
Time is fleeting, uncertain, and evanescent.
You belong to vast cycles of emergence, presence, and disappearance
That defy comprehension.
There is nothing you can teach your body about time.
There is nothing about time you can control or manage.
Your body knows how to live,
And it knows how to die.

Move toward the sublime fires
Of transience burning within,
So that you can choose to live a life
Congruent with your being –
Before it is too late.
The underlying ground of your identity
Is not a true self, vocation, or desired state.
You are a child of impermanence.
The creative energy of life is the essence of your belonging.
Uncertainty is the medium of your participation.
What more do you need to know
To embrace the privilege of being alive?

You are not merely growing old.
You are becoming, unfolding, and expanding.
Refuse to hide yourself
Behind the plasticity of anti-aging.
Refuse to cling to the patho-adolescent façade of youthfulness.
Release those toxic burdens and be free,
Knowing that aging is your permission
To say, “No more!”
Move back into the mystery,
To find your own ground
On the frontiers of possibility, awareness, and imagination.
Remain there,
Until your last breath.

Aging is a fierce advisor.
It will never negotiate with you,
Never abandon you,
Or deceive you.
Aging will always remain loyal,
Even when you deny it,
And patiently teach you the haunting beauty of
Truth from which there is no escape.

[Back to Frontier – Body]

Notes

  1. The genesis of this article is in those initial and almost imperceptible changes in my body initiating a journey into the realm of chronic physical challenges associated with age-related deterioration. In clinical terms, this is change from a healthy life span (the lack of chronic age-related challenges) and the onset of age-associated diseases (in my case, the beginning of chronic problems with my lower back and neck).
  2. A poetic voice is used as an attempt to hold an internal conversation with the forces of aging moving inside me. David Whyte describes the word of a poet as, “The poet lives and writes at the frontier between deep internal experience and the revelations of the outer world. There is no going back once this frontier has been reached; a new territory is visible and what has been said cannot be unsaid. 
  3. The energy of this poem is part consolation and part inspiration. It consoles in the sense that asks us to lean into the reality of our own aging and affirm that this is a natural if uncomfortable process that everyone endures in their own way. It inspires us by approaching the challenges of aging as a source of insight and wisdom while offering genuine respect for the hardships being experienced.