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At my recent talk in Stellenbosch, I asked a group of older adults to think about their internal dialogue. What goes on in their minds? What is the narrative/story that they engage with in those early hours of the morning, or at night, alone in bed before they fall asleep? How do they narrate their own story, frame their being-in-theworld to others? Our lived experiences are framed through our narrative – how do we tell our story? Because this framing loops back to how we think of and see ourselves.

Do we at the age of sixty or seventy think of GROWTH, planning for the future, making plans for the years ahead? Our brains, from about the age of sixty onwards, develop new neurological pathways that enable introspection and contemplation. We naturally start looking inward and have a deeper reflection and wider angle of viewing our Selves and our life. We no longer sweat the small stuff and have much more insight. We become wiser.

This is a remarkable gift that often goes unnoticed as a result of the doomed feeling of coping with losses. We become aware of our physical losses (hair, hearing, agility, spouses, friends, general health) and are told by the world that we are now retired/retarded/redundant. We feel more vulnerable and start taking on board the ageist projections of society. We fight back with implants and Botox and Wella, have an affair or go on a cruise, walk a pilgrimage or buy a new Audi TT (from which we can hardly get out without crawling on all fours…). We read anti-ageing stuff and pretend that it is not happening to us. And yet…

There is a dichotomy, a clash of body and mind, and instead of letting the mind guide us to new levels of awareness, we let society and the slowing of our bodies preoccupy us into a facelift! What if we embrace the slowing and wear-and-tear of the body as a gift? That does not mean that we give up – on the contrary! We must work harder than ever to stay t (yes and it IS four times more dif cult), eat well, socialize and learn new things! But if we embrace our age. Accept the gift of wisdom over the burden of our perceived losses…

After the age of 60, we need to be a lot more conscious of how we frame our being-in-the-world, engage our minds and go about this thing called living. The time to mess around is now over. We have to start, consciously, investing in our future. Now, more than ever, we must contemplate growth. Spiritual growth, emotional growth, and social growth. NEVER allow this sacred time to be filled with people who drag you down and are negative and destructive. Clean your cupboards – literally and figuratively speaking. Be wise in your council, choose your company well, choose your food well, and choose your thoughts even more critically. Focus on the beautiful moments of articulation in your own story. Take all the patches of your life – the good, the bad, the ugly, and start stitching them together in your own patchwork quilt. Narrate the patches with the gold thread of owning your own discourse of gratitude, seeing the gift of ageing as a time to contemplate, give back, and make the world a better place. To grow with intent! Refrain from bonsaing your growth – let the rhizomes grow wild! Enjoy the wonderment of new leaves and branches and buds. Don’t judge the gnarled knobbles of hard and calloused wood – take a close-up photograph and sew it into this tapestry that will be your legacy.

No one is insigni cant. Reflect, reframe, re-imagine. And in the stillness and slowed-down pace, you will find the Mind that connects you to the Source of your own Being that will graciously guide your Growth to fulfil your covenant with the Earth. These are the best years of our life.

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