There is definitely an Elder Wisdom that comes with long life; I feel it growing in me. There are lots of different forms of this wisdom, and one of my favorites is the an ability to see the interconnectedness of things. For sure, there can be a fine line between Elder Wisdom and Crazy Old Lady Thinking, but the older I get, the more clearly I appreciate the connections, even when they sound nutty. I was riding with a friend, she’s in her early 30’s, when someone on the radio started describing his frustration with his elderly Dad’s housekeeping – the fact that he didn’t dust because he didn’t want to disturb the spiders who were eating the mosquitoes. When he said that, my young friend chuckled, but I was thinking that having spiders eat mosquitoes makes a lot more sense than spraying poisons about. The commentator on the radio then noticed a couple of ants carting off the mosquito carcuses, which he pointed out to his Dad. “See,” replied his father with happy satisfaction, “The system is working.” My young friend laughed when she heard that. But I was with the Dad. I’ve crossed some kind of line, I guess. And it is such a wonderful view over here, part of the age advantage as far as I’m concerned.
I have recently discovered a NY Times opinion writer, Margaret Renkyl, who seems to be also crossing over. Margaret is only 56 years old, barely out of menopause, yet she described this Elder Wisdom interconnectedness with such poetry. In her essay, The Spider At My Window,” she writes: “Beyond the window where the spider has set up shop, there are two hummingbird feeders: one is the usual kind filled with sugar water; the other is a newfangled kind filled with rotting fruit. Fruit flies lay their eggs on the fruit; as the newly emerged flies exit through the slits in the feeder, the ruby-throated hummingbirds in my yard catch them and feed them to their babies. In autumn, those baby birds will fly across the Gulf of Mexico.” Margaret ends her essay with the most beautiful observation about how the fruit flies are ‘….in the process of becoming hummingbird wings… ”
I find that so breathtakingly true and comforting. Do you feel this kind of interconnectedness? Have you felt it all your life or is it getting stronger with age? How would you define Elder Wisdom and how do you perceive it? My, I am full of questions this afternoon.
You can read Margaret Renkle’s whole article by pressing the link below. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/23/opinion/spider-in-my-life.html
The hummingbirds at the top of this post were painted on gold leaf by my friend and teacher, the watercolorist, Juliann Johnson.