Marc Blesoff was a criminal defense attorney for 35 years. Six years ago, he began facilitating Conscious Aging workshops. He says that helped him melt the armor he’d built up as a defense lawyer. He’s a founding member of A Tribe Called Aging, which defines itself as a group of “activists and thinkers trying to understand and change our culture’s outlook, policies and fears about aging and dying.”
Aging from the heart doesn’t happen to everyone, but it can. I think it’s happening to me.
I didn’t have any negative reaction after I got my first COVID-19 vaccination. I kept hearing rumblings about possible intense side effects after the second shot, especially if the first went smoothly. Being aware helped with my preparation. I hydrated well, got my second shot and kept my eyes and ears open for even the slightest sign of any reaction.
I was actually trying to listen carefully to my body, not something I’ve had very much experience with throughout most of my life. I slowed down, stayed still, paid attention to small things and focused on what was happening in that moment. It was like letting my body be my friend. This awareness is what aging from the heart offers me.
For the past year, to one degree or another, we’ve all been faced with the tremendous uncertainties of immune systems, lockdowns, social isolation, physical distancing, economic instability and/or dying alone.
At the same time, I’ve been, and continue to be, educated about long-standing systemic prejudice and inequity. Some of my lifelong assumptions and habits are being sorely challenged, and I’m making friends with some of that discomfort.
These uncertainties and discomforts have shaken much of my world and have provided me with an opportunity to accept and work for change. Similarly, my body will change and I will die, but I don’t really know how or when. Aging from the heart offers me an opportunity to trust not-knowing those details.
Trust in not-knowing can help me throw open the curtains of life and let in more light.
Science tells us there is much more to our existence than just the physical light we can see.
And as I see more of the glorious, physical light, I might also get to know some invisible infrared or ultraviolet or perhaps get a sense of unseeable dark matter. I might even be able to remember my dreams or to hear the whispers of my own intuition.
Carl Jung said that “Synchronicity is an ever-present reality for those who have eyes to see.” Aging from the heart makes that ever-present reality more visible to me. When I am lost in my head, I may not see the synchronicities and noncerebral information of my environment.
The same applies to my relationship with myself. By allowing me to see more of who I am and what I am “seeing,” aging from the heart can help me become my own best friend.
“That’s as exciting as watching paint dry!” I remember using that sarcastic expression a lot throughout my life. Now that I’m older, it’s not so sarcastic. It means I’m being more aware of what’s going on around me.
For example, as I get older, I’ve been spending time appreciating the different speeds at which trees move, from wind in the branches to motions underneath the bark to just watching them grow. I’ve been watching trees grow —that’s kind of like watching paint dry! The noetic character of aging leads me to know that a forest is actually one connected, living organism. Noticing and appreciating what I’ve previously taken for granted is part and parcel of my getting older. I want to explore more of the possibilities offered as I age from the heart.
Marc Blesoff was a criminal defense attorney for 35 years, then he began facilitating Conscious Aging workshops, which has helped him melt the armor he’d built up as a defense lawyer. He’s a founding member of Courageus (formerly A Tribe Called Aging), a group of activists and thinkers trying to re-frame our culture’s outlook, policies and fears about aging and dying. Currently, he is the chairperson of the Oak Park, IL Aging-In-Place Commission.