Open Sermon (submitted by Alexandre Orion):
The ageing Jedi – when one starts wondering if one's “damned fool idealistic crusade” is “worth the candle”
31 janvier 2013
“ … and Nights and Days successively
Bring solstices respectively
And turn the seasons endlessly
That enough become a century … ”
– Alexandre Orion, 1988
Although the most of you are relatively young and have much of your youth ahead of you, our Temple is of many ages. We very frequently feel, certainly when someone is feeling a bit off or muddled, that there is some relationship to the muddle and the perception of time and how much of that peculiar stuff one has been through.
To be “over the hill” is a misconception. We never get “over” the proverbial hill. We either keep on climbing, or just “feel” we've come to the summit and give up. The thing of it is, who can see a whole hill at once (especially a proverbial one) ? Perhaps the best thing to do is to just enjoy the scenery from where one is …
Although we generally do not notice the shift in perspective, there most often is one. In youth, we look forward to 'potential' – what one hopes to do, to experience, to discover. All of Life lies before us. Later on in life, we begin looking at Life according to our 'limitations' – what we're too old to do, opportunities that we tend to see as having passed us by (or that we passed by). We see much of Life as being behind us. Middle age is what we call the experience of that perspective change, when 'Life as potential' slides into 'Life as limitation'.
Much of this is based on social values, which change over time. And as Watts reminded us so often, social values are usually way off from reality. With advances in medicine (especially preventative medicine), hygiene and living conditions, at least in the Western World, life expectancy has nearly doubled in the last century. Whereas 30-45 was 'middle age' in the 1950's, now middle age is more 45-60. Even those in their 40's in 1950 would have laughed had someone told them that they would live to the age of 90-something at the end of the 20th/beginning of the 21st centuries. Of course, in many cases, that ageing was not something to look forward to : twenty years of repeated and redundant (and expensive) visits to the clinic, a bowlful of medications for breakfast &c. But on the whole, things have been getting better. So, if youth and old age are not how many calenders have elapsed since the World produced the you you feel is you, but the 'potential' you may discover, experience and enjoy in a world that is innovating so rapidly no one seems to have noticed how many people are living well into their 80's and 90's, then let's stop focusing on the 'limitations'. We haven't noticed either that those limitations are getting to be fewer …
And the world is innovating rapidly. Ten years ago, there was no Facebook, no Twitter, mobile phones were phones (maybe with a clock and a boring game as an accessory) about the size of an electric razor. When something happened on the other side of the planet, one knew about it in a day or so – as compared to a week or so just a few decades before. Now, when something happens anywhere on the planet, we know about it in a few seconds. All of these innovations will very soon be quaint relics of days of yore as well ('days of yore' say, “back in the 2010's”).
So, as it were, those of us experiencing, or apt to experience 'mid-life crises', (for many of you, that may be when 'mid-life' is 60-75 years of age) would do well to remember that Life is evolution and advancement. In spite of the dreary stories and thoughts we may find ourselves focusing on, as a whole Life is getting better. The last five generations of us have seen more change in the human experience than in all the generations which came before. Doesn't that make our lives lean more toward 'potential' than 'limitation' in and of itself ?
So, is the game “worth the candle” ? You bet it is. And given that, isn't the Light of the candle it's worth the same from the time the candle is lit until it is burnt down ? We have the choice of either looking at how much candle is left and worrying about it or opening our eyes, our minds and our hearts to be receptive to what the flame is lighting up all around us. Let's do our best to choose wisely …
Please, for those of you who know me, take me not for a hypocrite. I'm just learning this stuff myself – having turned 46 in December and quite painfully might I add – and hoped to share it with all of you in the context of this sermon. And if one thinks about it, that 'hilltop' is still pretty damned far away, and the hill keeps getting taller under our feet.
May the Force be with us all ...