To Become a Sage: Look for Role Models

Jann FreedLiving, Sage-ing Leave a Comment

Since I blog about leading, living, and sage-ing or positive aging, this post is for everyone who wants to better understand the concept of sage-ing.  Learn from watching others.  Look for role models.  Become a seeker.

I was fortunate in the early 90s to meet a sage named Dr. Elmer Burack.  It was at a professional conference and a total coincidence.  I had been attending this regional conference for about 15 years because it was designed for people who teach at small to mid-size colleges.  Dr. Burack had never attended this conference before and never did again.   Dr. Burack was the chair of the PhD management program at the University of Illinois-Chicago.  He was only there to help out one of his former graduate students.

It is a long story, but Elmer became my professional mentor and friend.  Without meeting Elmer, I know I would not have written any of my books or have grown in ways that I did not expect.  It was Elmer who sent me the book that changed my life co-authored by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi From Age-ing to Sage-ing:  A Profound Vision of Growing Older. 

Basically, there are a few key components to becoming a sage and I have blogged about them in the past:

  • Understand and push back on society’s image of aging
  • Embrace your own mortality
  • Life review
  • Repair relationships
  • Leave a legacy

In my monthly podcast series titled Becoming a Sage (posted on the second Friday of each month and the next one is April 13th), I say I am out to retire the word “retirement.”  We are not retiring, but moving onto something else.  So what are you moving onto?

We might have as many years after our main career as during it.  So what are you going to do with this time and energy?  How are you going to continue to contribute?

We learn best by observing the lives of others.  Who is living a life that looks interesting and intriguing to you?  For me, Jimmy Carter is a sage.

A few years ago, I had the chance to hear former president Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter speak and they have been role models of mine ever since.  A few weeks ago, Jimmy Carter was interviewed for CBS Sunday morning and I encourage you to watch this video.  Notice how he does not mention being retired.  Watch how he reflects the elements of Sage-ing listed in the above list.  I perceive Jimmy as kind, generous, grateful, and

Sages or elders care about what they leave behind.  They are concerned about the decisions being made now that will affect others when they are gone.  I was moved by the protest/march in favor of gun controls and organized by the elders in the community where my parents live.  We joined in with them as did other family members including grandchildren and great grandchildren.  This is one way these elders are contributing and making a difference.  This is part of their legacy work.

“Our brains haven’t retired,” said Pat Peterson. “And our passions about life — we haven’t put that aside.

“We’re not just playing bingo.”

I am sharing a moving poem that reinforces the value we can have in the world if we strive to be conscious elders–caring about others along the way where the focus is on WE not ME.

Who are your role models for this time of life?

How are you becoming a sage?

Who is leading your way to help you navigate this part of the life journey?

hieroglyphic stairway

it’s 3:23 in the morning
and I’m awake
because my great great grandchildren
won’t let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?

surely you did something
when the seasons started failing?

as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?

did you fill the streets with protest
when democracy was stolen?

what did you do

I’m riding home on the Colma train
I’ve got the voice of the milky way in my dreams

I have teams of scientists
feeding me data daily
and pleading I immediately
turn it into poetry

I want just this consciousness reached
by people in range of secret frequencies
contained in my speech

I am the desirous earth
equidistant to the underworld
and the flesh of the stars

I am everything already lost

the moment the universe turns transparent
and all the light shoots through the cosmos

I use words to instigate silence

I’m a hieroglyphic stairway
in a buried Mayan city
suddenly exposed by a hurricane

a satellite circling earth
finding dinosaur bones
in the Gobi desert
I am telescopes that see back in time

I am the precession of the equinoxes,
the magnetism of the spiraling sea

I’m riding home on the Colma train
with the voice of the milky way in my dreams

I am myths where violets blossom from blood
like dying and rising gods

I’m the boundary of time
soul encountering soul
and tongues of fire

it’s 3:23 in the morning
and I can’t sleep
because my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the earth was unraveling?

I want just this consciousness reached
by people in range of secret frequencies
contained in my speech

–Drew Dellinger
© 2017