Five A's of Inventive Aging


The Snail 1953 by Henri Matisse 1869-1954The latest meeting of my writer’s group, The Purple Pros, was rich with splendid conversation about art, poetry, literature and theatre. In my update I mentioned how after 24 years of  passionate—one might almost say obsessive—writing, teaching and speaking, I’ve been in a semi-fallow period since my last book came out. Little green shoots are popping up here and there, but as yet I have no clear direction. Lenny spoke of how various challenges and life changes leave her with little time to work on her long play and the four short ones she wants to start.  What with Margie newly remarried after years of non-stop writing, speaking, and presenting, it quickly became apparent that we had found our theme for the meeting: the transition from our highly productive and creative middle years into the autumns of our lives.
For her writing activity, Margie had synchronistically chosen the same theme.  She told us about visiting the Tate Museum’s exhibition of the cut-out art of Henri Matisse on her honeymoon. Bedridden and wheelchair-bound in the last decade of his life, Matisse was too frail to stand up or hold a brush for long.  So, still driven to create by his daemon—in classical mythology a daemon was a benevolent semi-divine nature spirit who drives humans forward and upward—his new medium became colored paper and his tool, scissors.  Margie shared some questions she’s been pondering since then and suggested we address any that appealed to us.
Two questions interested me: “Why is it important to re-invent myself at this stage of life?” and “What qualities would enable the reinvention of my craft?”  Since crossroads and transitions are common to all at crucial times in our lives, I decided to share my musings here. A thought:  If our daemons drive us to pursue and perfect our passions, our musings/muses infuse them with inspiration and creativity.  After all, my musings on Margie’s incisive questions inspired this new post at a time when I’ve been writing less than usual.
So, “Why is it important to reinvent myself at this stage of life?”  Because I may have completed my previous stage, but I’m not finished for good.  My life is a miraculous gift, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I’m not ready to sit on the riverbank watching the rest of it flow past. I don’t want to leave without having made all the contributions that my driven daemon, creative muse and unique soul can make. I may not be Henri Matisse or Virginia Woolfe but I am Jean Raffa!
“What qualities would enable the reinvention of my craft?”  Yes, writing is my craft, but so is my life. My ultimate mission is to make of myself and my life a work of art: something beautiful, original and meaningful, something that nourishes the growth not only of my soul but of others.  As I wrote my answer to this question I recognized five qualities that have helped me reinvent myself and will continue to do so:

  1. Attention:  Staying aware of my inner and outer life—what I’m feeling, sensing, intuiting, doing, and finding fulfilling and meaningful—in service to self-knowledge, authenticity and consciousness.
  2. Acceptance:  Releasing my resistance to things I can’t control or change.
  3. Appreciation:  Being grateful for whatever happens inside and outside of me, not just what I consider positive, but also what I’m inclined to view as negative, in the knowledge that every particle of life is valuable, necessary and instructive to my soul.
  4. Assimilation:  Consciously integrating my experiences and perceptions into a growing and changing life stream of creative energy that keeps me moving forward.
  5. Action:  Manifesting my soul’s creativity in my writing, loving and living so that my offerings will make a healing difference.

So far I’ve chosen to be a friend, wife, teacher, mother, Episcopal church-goer, homemaker, carpool driver, community volunteer, television producer, graduate student, college professor, vision quester, dream worker, shadow-tamer, author, workshop leader, social media networker, and music maker. Lately I hear the call to reinvent myself again. I don’t know what choices I’ll make or how they’ll turn out, but then I never did.  What I do know is that my daemon, muse, soul and I intend to keep reinventing our life until this one ends and the next begins.
Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Diesel Ebooks 

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10 Responses

  1. These are five valuable A’s for any stage of life. I think we are always in the midst of some transformation. It is allowing it that is the challenge. You are a helpful guide and teacher in this process, Jeanie, thank you. So glad that you are not just sitting on the riverbank. I look forward to seeing where the river flows.

  2. … What I do know is that my daemon, muse, soul and I intend to keep reinventing our life until this one ends and the next begins …
    Insightful Jean …
    Jung did attach such great significance to the number four! For some reason I wish to introduce a writer to the group whom I adjudge to be almost as talented and blessed in communicating critical messages as you are yourself … I assume that the majority of us reading your posts keep a well-thumbed and yellow highlighted copy of’ Healing the Sacred Divide’ at least by our bedside, but preferably in our briefcase to travel with us wherever we go …. My two well-read book companions in addition to yourself are Richard Rohr’s ‘Falling Upward; and Jolande Jacobi’s ‘Psychology of CG Jung’;
    However your comments about your ‘next generation’ development connected somehow with another Jungian’s work – Anne Baring’s ‘The Dream of the Cosmos’. Anne was completely unknown to me, but for the past three weeks I have become as engrossed in this book, very much like I am held still within yours Jean. Anne does give Christianity and other religions a rather hard time historically in the book, but it caught me nonetheless just as your own did.
    My rather remote connect with Anne Baring and your post above is that Anne’s book was published just over a year ago, with her having attained 82 years of age. Might she have been able to write this a decade earlier? Possibly, but perhaps not as magnificently. Thus Jung lady, whatever the crone advises and devises, may you continue to nurture and benefit those of us in varied lands who connect to you and your gifts. Thank you!
    Blessings, Andi

    1. Thank you, Andi….for your wonderful comment, and for your affirming words about Healing the Sacred Divide. It means very much to me. Thank you also for putting me in the same company (and bedside book stack and briefcase) with Richard Rohr and Jolande Jacobi. I admire and respect both. It may not surprise you to know that I read Anne Baring’s The Dream of the Cosmos last September and it caught me too! My dog-eared, underlined, much-read-and-commented-in copy sits beside me now as I write. To be in her company too is a great honor! I love the connection you made between her and this post. And I think you’re right! It takes many years, much experience and powerful assimilation powers to write a book with as much depth and breadth as this one. You might also be interested in knowing that she is a friend of Andrew Harvey and there’s a wonderful video interview….perhaps on Youtube?….of them talking. Sorry I can’t remember where to find it now, but it shouldn’t be too difficult. Thank you for your blessing, and I send mine back to you. Blessings, Jeanie

  3. Thank you for this Jeanie – and for continually “showing up” as they say…. It is also so heartwarming to see a piece by Matisse!!…I was quite obsessed with his last works as a child; I remember doing several school projects on the final stages of Henri….his personal evolution reminds me of getting in touch with Ganesha, a return to Innocence….travelling left (his early education in law), travelling right (his fantastic use of color) and finally, centering on his whimsy…. a return to Innocence…to Source.. xXxAmanda

    1. You’re welcome, Amanda. Thank you for this intriguing comment. I love your associations about the connection between Matisse and Ganesha….I’m sensing our minds work in similar ways!! 🙂 Blessings, Jeanie

  4. dear and divine Jean …… life is a film to know our roles and divine part ……. a good natural actor always invent and fits naturally into those different roles which you have played very well ….. you are a blessed person whose original identity appeared on the screen at the start of the film rather than at the end of the film which is normally is the case ……. so enjoy this freedom to choose new roles of you choice now on the path of creative enlightenment ……. with greetings and gratitude ……. love all……. ram

    1. Dear and Divine Ram,
      How good it is to hear from you! Your comment reminds me of Shakespeare’s lines from “As You Like It”: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.”
      I am, indeed a blessed person and I appreciate your very generous explanation of why that may be so. However, I must say that if my original identity appeared on the screen at the start of the film as you say, it did so without the awareness of my ego, which has taken a very long time to become conscious of it! Mostly it has felt like the innocent Ingenue’ and clueless Fool were my dominant roles! But then these are parts of my fuller self, and I suppose it’s possible to show the world one’s whole self from the beginning of the film without knowing it. An interesting thought…. Maybe this explains why the theme of my journey and this blog has been to acquire ‘gnosis’ or ‘knowing.’ Certainly my passion is self-knowledge: i.e. to connect my self-image with reality.
      Enjoyment of this process has been steadily growing, and with your blessing, perhaps I’ll become as good at it as you one day! May it be so.
      Thank you for writing.
      With greetings, gratitude and love,

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