Artist Bernadette Curtin reviews an anthology of stories by men and women exploring what it is to age consciously…
How do we feel about ourselves as we age? If we are over fifty are we ‘over the hill?’ If we are younger than fifty is growing old something that we simply assume won’t happen to us?
The Joy of Ageing, Esoterically’has been published by Aevum Books, edited by two women who live in the Northern Rivers, Anne McRitchie and Rowena Parkes. It is an anthology of men and women from all walks of life in their fifties through to their eighties, writing about ageing from their own experience.
The idea of the book was born when a group of older women In the Northern Rivers of NSW started to meet. They had all been exposed to the way our society regards older women, but they had also attended presentations, which had exposed them to the concept of our own responsibility in how our lives are lived, and that perhaps there is more to life than was ordinarily accepted by today’s society.
They spent their meeting times exploring these ideas amongst themselves and then realised that they all had a story to tell about how their lives had been changed. They also explored the possibilities of what life was truly about, how, as children, life seemed so joyous, how they seemed to sense what was going on around them energetically. The feeling was often that they had been here before and knew so much more, but as children could not articulate what they inherently felt and understood. Do we suppress these feeling and knowings as we grow older and we put them down to childish imaginings?
They also talked to other Elders overseas and felt that by sharing their diverse stories in a book they could perhaps help others to remember how it felt for them when they were children – how life can be wondrous and joyful, and if we can let go of all the impositions that life has put upon us, we can have a joy-filled older age.
Perhaps the best way to introduce the book is first to define the word ‘esoteric’ as this word has not had a good rap, often linked with being secretive or elitist. In its true meaning, and as understood by the writers in the book:
‘The esoteric is about unfolding back to that which we already are and never is it about being or becoming something we are not, and therefore it is never what we cannot naturally be.’ Serge Benhayon.
The writers in the book and their stories dismantle the belief that ageing is a downhill slide, and instead they are rediscovering a way of being that celebrates purpose, vitality, experience, inner harmony and joy.
In a society that increasingly promotes youth and physical appearance have we lost sight of our true worth and beauty from the inside? Are we pushing our elders aside, discounting the value of lived experience and putting the elderly ‘out to pasture’ until they pass over?
The stories in the book offer amazing insights into the power and freedom that is available when loving choices are made, when we can let go of old patterns of behaviour and associated beliefs.
All the writers in the book reflect that there can be a different way to age, that in our elder years we can celebrate the time and opportunity to live in a consistent way, inspiring all those around us.
In the words of one of the writers, “ . . . I have come to learn that I am here for a purpose, that age is a thing of beauty, and that time is not my enemy.”
Artist, Art Tutor, Writer, Grandmother and Lover of Life
To find out more about ageing backwards or to buy the book you can visit