"Here I am age 60 and becoming an activist for the first time in my life," said the woman with gorgeous grey hair cut in a perfect bob. We were sitting at the same table at our church's adult forum about immigration, and I admired her passion and knowledge about the topic. At a later meeting we again were sitting near each other, and I told her I had been thinking about what she had said and wondered why she was taking on the role of activist in this time of her life.
"Because I am retired."
She explained further, saying she didn't have time in the busy years of raising her family and working in a demanding job. I am sure that is true, but in addition perhaps there has never been more of a need for active involvement in our communities.
Availability plus need equals purpose.
If you are retired and wondering what to do with this stage in your life, or if you feel a lack of meaning in your life or if every day seems the same or if what you thought you would do during this time no longer seems fulfilling or interesting or challenging, I urge you to become an activist.
How you define that and how you choose to take on that role is up to you, but do it. Stretch yourself. Get out of your box. True, you may not have the energy you once had and maybe you feel overwhelmed by the number of issues, but there is no change without change. And you can change and make change.
Perhaps you have heard an older person say, "I've done my part. It is time for others to step in and step up." Well, my friend, the world doesn't allow that kind of luxury or apathy. We not only have the time, we have the gift of experience by this stage in our life, and if we have been doing our spiritual work, we have deep empathy and compassion for those in need.
This is the time to cultivate passion and fearlessness.
I love what Jean Shinoda Bolen says in her book, Crones Don't Whine, Concentrated Wisdom for Juicy Women,
Crones are not naive or in denial about reality.
When something in particular is an outrage, and
doing something about it is a choice, a moment
of truth occurs in which activists are born. The
suffering of others or the feeling of Enough is
enough" radicalizes older women...A crone is a
woman who has found her voice. She knows that
silence is consent. This is a quality that makes older
women feared. It is not the innocent voice of a child
who says, 'the emperor has no clothes,' but the
fierce truthfulness of the crone that is the voice of
reality...Her fierceness springs from the heart, gives
her courage, makes her a force to be reckoned with.
Bolen writes specifically about and for women, but there is a lesson here for men, too. "Silence is consent," and the time for silence has passed. The time for being passive and thinking someone else will do what needs to be done or that the problems we face will pass away or that I am too old, just one person, or have done my part is not good enough.
Most likely you are familiar with these words by the poet Mary Oliver, but they are worth repeating, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" We have lived a good chunk of our life, but we are still in the midst of life. So what is it you are going to do?
How are you responding to the current political climate? In what ways are you living your "one wild and precious life"? I would love to know.
Note: Here's a link to follow with suggestions of what you can do this week. Checklist