“These are writings about ‘becoming’ as an ongoing and active process with its especial significance as we age….becoming assumes a ‘changing to’ and a ‘moving toward.'” Susan Scott and Susan Schwartz
The above words are from the preface of Aging and Becoming: A Reflective Enquiry, by Susan Scott, a writer from Morningside, Johannesburg, and Susan Schwartz, a Jungian analyst from Paradise Valley, Arizona.
Each of the 26 chapters in this slender volume begins and ends with an appropriate quote, most from wise women throughout history. In between is a conversation between the authors on topics ranging from A–Aging & Attitude–to Z–Zero. Stitched together, these musings create a nurturing patchwork quilt of a month’s worth of meditations on how women can age consciously and wisely. Here aging is not treated as a downhill slide to a disastrous end, but a series of challenges and opportunities to grow your soul into its intended fruition.
A: Aging and Adapting
Susan Scott: Attitude is a word of motion that in its best sense expands and broadens. Many of us who do not allow for an expansion of attitude, a growth in our view of ourselves and the world and our place in it, can get stuck…This entrenchment of attitude is limiting and draining to personal power and leaves little room for movement or maneuver.
Susan Schwartz: We are not only on a descent but also on an ascent into a more complete rounding out of our personality….Perhaps what is referred to as wisdom is the ability to cope and find reasons, strategies or ways of being and for valuing the present moments….The wisdom and spirit of age can be demolished only if we agree or collude with those attitudes that denigrate and demean.
Susan Schwartz: The time for conformity and fitting in just to be accepted is over. Real forms of self-expression derive not from a false front or to superficially conform, but arise from the real self, a more complete woman self. As we age, the need to define and express our essence becomes more insistent. The image of the older woman as frumpy is not true. Voice, artistic writing, style, intellect comes in all these numerous garments and more for expressing her soul.
Susan Scott: Healthy self-care differs from the obsessive body panic. The fine line is to be aware of judgments about the body as negative or perfect. That signals the false ego rather than a devotion to restorative self-attention.
D: Dreams, Death & Depth
Susan Schwartz: Dreams are both messages and messengers. And how awful it is to be ignorant of them. The mystery of not understanding them while holding them preciously allows for secrets to gradually unfold….[Dreams] illustrate, through their mirroring function, how the personality keeps on presenting information about life events, aging and changing.
Susan Scott: The dream reveals our own metaphor, our own myth, as a gift to one’s self. It carries great responsibility and opportunities. The rich and honest soil of the dream, unconscious and wanting some light thrown on it requires attentive watering for its fertility and to bear fruit.
F: Fear & Fulfillment
Susan Scott: When I am assailed by fearful feelings I realize that they are often the spur that shakes me out of my languor and torpor. It is not easy sitting with them. Yet, by virtue of sitting and being in that fearful place, another kind of awareness may emerge creating a slight shift.
J: Joy & Journey
Susan Schwartz: Jouissance is a French word for physical or intellectual pleasure, delight, or ecstasy…it means to go beyond the superficial and metaphorically get out of the box. Jouissance transports us to what is beyond the familiar. It represents…intricacies to be appreciated as the journey wends its way even more uniquely and we continue to define and refine.
M: Moon, Mourning & Mystery
Susan Scott: The moon’s principle is constant change and as such is symbolic of an emotional inner and outer principle. What other force is there like the moon that pulls the oceans from shore to shore? Now as we age we are more mindful of the powers of darkness, the night atmosphere represented by the moon and its associations to the feminine energy.
Susan Schwartz: it is time to unravel the shadow pieces lying on the dark side of the moon. This expands the personality making us more inclusive and complete. We could then be more honest, openly accessible to ourselves and to others. Honesty is not hiding what we never had to hide to begin with.
P: Path & Pain
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” Gloria Steinem
Susan Scott: The quest in life is being aware of the questions–about who we are, our place in this mystery of life as we experience it. We can ask the questions, stir things up a bit as it will surely do…we can welcome whatever arises as we would a guest, coming newly into our home. Can I live the questions I ask of myself? The only foolish question is the one not asked.
Susan Schwartz: The end of the alphabet, zero, is a letter than denotes what begins and ends…An aspect to Zen is waiting, awareness, feeling and not feeling the body and its sensations and reactions, being and not being caught in the mind….And the zebra that is such a lovely and unusual animal…Like the zebras none of us have the same stripes. This is similar to how we move through aging by negotiating its complexities and living consciously….Aging presents challenges that we do not escape at life endings.
Aging and Becoming is not a work to rush through. It is contemplative reading, packed with thoughts to savor slowly, like a leisurely conversation over coffee with a beloved friend. It will activate your ego’s awareness of your soul’s natural condition: an appreciation for wonder, mystery, and curiosity, and a knowing of the essential meaning and potential of your life. Like winter, these inner events portend spring’s renewal.
Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at Kobo, Barnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Her new book, The Soul’s Twins, will be launched next year.
Thank you very much Jeannie! I loved reading these excerpts – with a fresh eye! It was a lovely surprise to wake up to earlier this morning though only now responding in the middle of packing. I’ll email Susan Schwartz shortly. Again, very many thanks indeed!
You’re so welcome, Susan. Congratulations to you and Susan for your very honest, thoughtful, and articulate contribution to the literature on conscious aging!
Yes, I enjoyed AGING AND BECOMING, but now that I’m turning 70 I think it is time to read it again! I have noticed that in aging, I’m becoming the REAL me! Change comes with aging.
It does, indeed. And it can be very positive change in terms of our striving for consciousness and authenticity. I’m experiencing the same push to be less of an ego- and results-oriented perfectionist and more mindful and present to myself and my surroundings. It’s that deep awareness of the moment that I find so nurturing and refreshing. I think it’s what the soul naturally seeks.
Reblogged this on lampmagician.
Dear Jeanie, This is such an excellent and well deserved review of Susan’s (five star!) 2nd book which is such a joy to read! You leave me wanting to skip over to my bookshelves for another read. I feel I can only do justice here by adding my own heartfelt thoughts and reflections on “Aging & Becoming: A Reflective Enquiry” which I’ve posted before on Amazon UK. This is a book I highly recommend … or as I poetically call it, “Oceanic love or what it feels like in words.”
“Wow! I have never read a more brilliant book in all my days! Everything I’ve ever wanted to read about or question in terms of “Aging & Becoming” is held with the beautiful pages of this collaborative soul missive. Put simply, this is an extraordinary enquiry and exploration of life, death and everything in between. The depth and flow of conversation between these two long term (several decades!) students of Jung is astounding! The A to Z topics they touch upon feed mind, body, spirit and soul. I feel this is a must-have book for all Jungians, psychotherapists, healers and for those dedicated to their own soul evolution.
Here is a book about knowing oneself and reflecting on life. You could literally open this inspirational book at any page and begin reading, and this is what I shall be doing again and again for the inherent wisdom, depth of beauty and profound truth found within these pages is remarkable! Dear Susan’s, know this, I shall be feasting on your work for many years to come, for one cannot savour such richness in one sitting alone! You give us so much meat on the bone! Totally unique in its presentation, a book bursting with grace, and one that looks at home in the midst of many Jungian titles, presently residing next to the Red Book itself.”
I hope your summer stay in the beautiful and inspiring Smoky Mountains is going well! I’ve just returned from my own travels late last night … and so the unpacking and washing (albedo!) begins, not just of memories and views but of all that the mountains held for me in mind, body, spirit and soul. I’ve posted a few pics on Insta if you’d like to see. Right, time to catch up with a few of my favourite blogs and then to sit down and start contemplating August. Love and light, Deborah.
Dear Deborah, thanks for posting your Amazon review here. I agree with everything you’ve written about this book. I’ve been doing a little traveling and changing computers — and having some trouble with them — so haven’t had a chance to post my review on Amazon yet but will see if I can get that done right now!
I loved your beautiful pictures of your “Smoky Mountains” in the lake district of England. What a gorgeous place that is. I’ve been having a wonderful summer in my Smoky Mountain refuge so far…and am soon off with my family for a European adventure. I may write about it soon, or at least post some pics on Instragram.
Love and light back to you, Jeanie
Thank you for your generous comment Deborah! This has made my day – I think I’ll be on Could 9 for several days! I’ll let Susan Schwartz know. May your summer days delight you both – when all around there is so much that is disturbing, we can look out to Nature for the feasts she offers.
Dear and Divine Jean ,
Your review is shower of wisdom , sitting under a umbrella sipping a cup of finely brewed coffee ,
Ageing and becoming is like knowing the cage of time ( Body ) and sage of timelessness ( Soul )
Always a value for Time contemplation reading your Blog.
ram H singhal
H capital means Happiness , Harmony and Healthy body ,mind and soul..,.
you are my one of the inspirations from the day one , since started my Blog ,
my sincere Gratitude
Dear Ram, And every time you write a post or respond to one of mine, you are an inspiration to me. It is a joy to know you, Jeanie