Here I am, I still go on, you know, like the tides.
In celebration of Angela Lansbury’s 91st birthday I’m throwing your inner elder a surprise party and you have to be there! Don’t tell me that you can’t come because you’ve already been invited to an inner child play-date. That brat can go to inner Disneyland tomorrow. And don’t tell me that you have too many grown up responsibilities. Show some damn respect for your inner elder and let her know she’s a priority. The laundry, bills and endless hassle of daily living can wait. It’s time to put on your inner and outer party hat and get ready to celebrate your inner elder!
And don't worry if you already consider yourself elderly. Your inner elder is always at least 20 years older, which makes you a spring chicken.
Why it’s important to meet, greet and value your inner elder
I don’t think many of us would argue that our society is youth obsessed. We love big headed babies, hot 23 year old’s and everything in between. We adore the young for their unlimited potential, smooth skin and the fact that they don’t remind us of our own impending doom. Unfortunately our love of youth is often accompanied by hostility toward older people. We honk at them when they drive slower, grow impatient when they take longer to figure out the ATM and wish they’d hurry up so that we can get on with our very important days. Plus things are changing so fast in our technological tidal wave of a society, what could someone with an AOL address possibly have to teach us?
A hell of a lot. Your bad-ass inner elder has been around all the blocks with you and refused to get bitter and angry. She has wisdom from experience and the restraint and kindness not to beat you over the head with it. She’ll never lecture you about saving more in your 401K or not having that second glass of wine. Your IE wants to give you hope for the future, help you understand the past and reveal in the present.
The last one still standing (or sitting or lying down) when you transcend all the obstacles, broken dreams, disappointments, bitterness and every crappy thing this grubby little planet can throw your way is your inner elder. So let’s get to know this remarkable individual who also happens to be you.
She is grateful
Your inner elder has been with you through sickness, injury and sheer exhaustion. She’s watched as you’ve lost friends, lovers, abilities, opportunities and stood by you through the bleakest of times. Therefore she is grateful for every sunny day, every chance to laugh with friends, each opportunity to use your body with delight (cause she knows this body ain’t gonna be around forever). You inner elder is grateful to still be a player in this crazy game and she has learned to appreciate the big and little things.
She is wise
Isn’t great to know that your inner elder is always on your side and looking for ways to help you better understand the world? One of her superpowers is the ability to put today’s tragic disappointments into a greater context that gives your hardships meaning and you hope. So let’s all take a deep breath and relax into the knowledge that your IE is taking good notes and making sweet lemonade from your life’s sour lemons. Mark my words, wisdom is the new youth.
She is realistically optimistic
Did you know people tend to get happier as they get older? Doesn’t seem fair right? Why should wrinkly people who walk slowly get to be so happy when taut skinned hotties are miserable? Researchers think this happiness effect is because older people are more skilled at dealing with negative emotions than their younger counterparts. Older people also tend to be better at accepting unpleasant things and fighting reality is another thing that makes younger people unhappy. Why not let your inner elder help you cope with disappointment and better understand your difficult emotions. She is so happy to help.
She ain’t shallow
Your inner elder has watched the crows walk across her face and felt gravity’s inevitable march down your/her body. She has experienced sagging, wrinkles, disability, sickness and more. Through all this, your wise inner elder has noticed that while outer beauty is transient, inner beauty and peace tend to be more stable. She has learned to focus on the qualities she can control, such as being nice to people, leaving a legacy, sharing what she knows and enjoying each day. When your inner elder loses all her teeth, she focuses on how much she enjoys milkshakes. She is a tough and wise cookie.
She wants to be your friend
Your inner elder isn’t angry, but she is disappointed about one thing. She hates it when you are mean and impatient with her and older people in general. This wise old cat knows that dissing her is dissing your future self and buying into the myth that getting older isn’t cool.
One of the most important messages your inner elder has for you is that you’re going someplace important. In this magical future place, which you can also visit now, you get to eat ice cream, play bingo and radiate compassion together, no teeth required.
Stay tuned for Part 2 which will include an exercise to help you meet and greet your inner elder and figure out way to integrate him or her into your life. Until then just drink a lot of milk shakes and be grateful.