When I was 19 and a second year psychiatric nurse and thought I knew it all, a very depressed patient that I sat to connect with and ask about her depression, said to me and I quote: “What would you know?”
She was right, what did I know about life, especially the rather sheltered life I had led!
I had no idea about Depression other than what I had learnt in a text book! Once more I didn’t know how to just BE with someone suffering in such a way. To listen if they wanted to talk, to walk with them on their journey of uncovering the depths of their sadness or to sit in the silence of just being there for someone. This was not taught in the classroom or in the books, we were told to watch her for suicide tendencies which were driven more by fear than compassion.
This was my first lesson in ‘Experience’ counting in life!
If I was to go back in time with the knowledge and experience I have now it would be a totally different encounter and I dare to say, she would have seen me as different, as an older, wiser person.
Getting older does not automatically make me an elder, it is that deep inner work focussed on goals beyond personal satisfaction and enjoyment, although they are part of the journey, it’s that inner calling to attune to our highest values and cultivate a relationship with our soul. Collectively our commitment and gifts can and will make a critical difference in helping us meet the huge challenges facing today’s wounded world. As we lay the foundation for a healthy world in which our descendants can thrive. There is no greater legacy that we can leave for the generations that will follow us and no greater gift that we can give ourselves than to aim high as we age, ever reaching for our best. The world needs wholeness, wisdom, and gifts of conscious elders.