January 2016

Donald Mathews:

Last year I posted an article on the Creative Edge home page titled: On Finding The Value and Joy of Aging. In it are listed the 7 necessary basic tasks for conscious aging by Jane Wheelwright, a student of Carl Jung. I highly recommend it to you.

The 1st task is accepting the reality of death—death as a part of life and our journey through it. These last few years, as I pass age 85, death is a vital theme always in the background of my mind—thankfully, it’s without fear. Given my age, it is highly possible that death will take me sometime in the next several years. That’s a reality! I am curious, of course, of its unpredictable actual timing and what my experience with it will be. I am also reminded of the value of seeing death as a friend, not something to fear. This is particularly true if one encounters painful incurable physical problems at the end.
I feel I came into a peaceful relationship with death a little over 20 years ago, while studying in Zurich with a group of psychologists. The mysterious gift of life actually continues to be very strong in me. However, I feel the importance of being ready when my time comes, and consequently, why I am writing on this theme.

The theme of death for me is also the theme of “going home.” It is the theme of returning to the mystery of our beginning—with conception and birth. Going home, has been a popular dream theme throughout my life, and now I believe it is the final theme of death—active in this recent dream:

As I walk down a path on my way home, a rocky wall tilts the path into the water of a pond. Fully dressed but unconcerned about my clothes or the water, I forged ahead holding my wallet high. Wading through to the other side, I continue down the path. Plunging through bushes, I discover to my surprise, I am at the ocean shore. Turning away from the ocean, I continue to search for another way onward toward home through houses near the shore.

For me, the interesting parts of the dream are the wallet, and the turning away from the ocean or death. In many traditions, death is across the river, or across the great ocean. Looking at “my way home” as my journey through life, home is the return to the mystery of where we come from, or death. The wallet symbolizes my identity and desire to protect it from emotions—the passage through the pond. It is also the desire to keep my identity intact ahead, as I continue on the path of life. Then finally, for me in this dream, I turn away from the final passage of death to be found by crossing the great ocean I have discovered. By calmly turning way from the ocean, and by continued searching for the path, it indicates it is not my time for death!

Toward preparing for death, significant steps have already been accomplished—with my spouse for personal matters, and with the Creative Edge Board for organizational matters. The organizational plan now in effect, is to next year hand over the helm of Creative Edge to the Vice President, my daughter Carol Mathew-Rogers. She has started an extension of Creative Edge located in Sacramento (CES), where she is already offering her own workshops. She is also sponsoring new CES workshops with other facilitators. The first is a writing workshop with Pia Spector starting in January 2016.

Creative Edge prepares to live on with new life!

These steps I have taken are also a part of turning away from the strong identity I have developed, and protected, over a lifetime—adjusting to a softer more appropriate late stage identity consistent with “conscious aging!” Thus freed, I am able to live in accordance with step 7, “joyfully, playfully, and more fully present, with whatever life presents.”