Jul 16

Ageing & Breaking Boundaries by Persephone

For some while now I have wanted to write something that encourages a conversation about the ups and downs of the ageing process. The reason? Well, my usual sources for articles – i.e. anyone who reads this newsletter – seem to have dried up.

So, I’d better start a new ball rolling. By the end of reading this, if, in response, you feel like writing something of your own to send me, that would be great! Then a many faceted and interesting conversation can grow. It would be so good to have other, gently ageing voices contributing in this way, each sharing their own unique perspectives and stories of joy and sadness.

Whilst I was living in Australia I turned 60years old . . . then back in the UK it was 70 and more recently it became 80. Funnily enough the worst realization about beginning to age, came when I was between my 40s and 50s. This was around the time that I became aware of the growth movement in London, which subsequently led me to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (now Osho) – and becoming 50. In his ashram it became plain that I was not nearly attractive enough for most of the gorgeous men I was surrounded with! Most of the women were younger than me, with long flowing hair and long lithe bodies! The next message I gave myself was that I wouldn’t stand a chance. This wasn’t totally true – there was one dear lover with whom I had a beautiful and loving on-off relationship (mostly off!), during our time in the ashram, and when he was living in the USA and I in the UK!

Then one day, I woke up to the fact that if I spent the rest of my life seeing myself as an ageing woman therefore (I thought) not attractive to men at all – that is how it would turn out . . . and, for a while, that is exactly what happened. For the next nineteen years I lived alone, and, apart from one totally impossible love affair, also celibate.

To be fair I have often been told that I don’t look my age. I do know this to be true – even now, at 80 years old. But the facts spoke differently – from the age of 60, most of my time was spent living alone – and, much to my surprise – I loved it! I was able to drop the expectation that I ‘should’ have a partner, in order to be complete. It was also during this time that I began seriously to write . . . and, still in Australia, my monthly articles were published by an alternative magazine called Nova.

All this time my body was ageing, but seemingly pretty slowly. My hair turned grey – then, with a bit of highlighting help – white. Yes, wrinkles started to arrive, but only recently do they really show up.

Since I was a little girl, wanting to be a princess, I have been shamefully vain.
Not necessarily an accomplishment to be proud of – but it did have the upside of keeping me awake about my looks, clothes and general appearance. I took care of my skin and my body . . . .even, in Australia, going to the length of a three week fast on nothing but drinking water. I certainly would not recommend that to anyone – it’s dangerous! However, I did share this experience with a group of fellow ‘travellers’ so had good support. Yes, I lost weight and yes, felt terrific. And, on many other levels it was a very foolish thing to do.

I have always had a tendency to push my boundaries. As a small child I would fiercely push the boundaries my mother set, as a young teenager I pushed my social and academic boundaries by winning a scholarship to a prestigious girls’ public school. At the Royal Academy of Music – I pushed the boundaries when mixing a vibrant social life with my studies. In my first marriage I pushed the boundaries when falling in love with another man, and running away . . . .and so- on. Was I impetuous and foolish? – YES.

Earlier, when single and living in London I pushed many boundaries by becoming part of what was called then the Growth Movement. This came over to us here from Esalen. California. It introduced new therapies and new ways of training and working with people – in meditation, encounter groups, gestalt, bio=energetics and much much more. It was a very exciting time.

Then, seemingly inevitably, this turned into an unexpected spiritual search with the arrival of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (now known as Osho) whose ashram in Poona became a pilgrimage for many of us. Boundaries around my home and my family were pushed to the extreme, when I sold up and, with my youngest son, travelled to the USA, gained a green card and went to live and work in Bhagwan’s huge new ashram (it became a registered US city) near Antelope, Oregon. My three older children were all living their own separate lives by this time.

Obviously, throughout these vibrant years I was growing older. The dream in Oregon collapsed, my youngest son (then aged 17) decided to stay in the USA with his friends and I was invited to go to Italy with a group of us from the Oregon community. From Italy, back to the UK – then to Australia for five years, and back here in 2001.Each time, leaving what I had set up – for something unknown. The word unknown is important. Anything you already know, is held by the boundary of the known.

There is a reason for this brief biography with its emphasis on breaking boundaries. I would like to start an in-print conversation on this website, a platform if you like – for others to write their experiences, thoughts, hopes and dreams around this subject of ageing. Somehow I will find a way of using some of your writings to start a conversation that people can join in. Not quite sure how practically that can happen, but I am sure my computer man, Duncan – or one of you– will have some ideas that work!

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6 Responses to “Ageing & Breaking Boundaries by Persephone”

  1. ERica Jakobs says:

    I think it is a great idea but I haven’t got a realistic, concrete idea of how it would work, particularly as I am fairly hopeless at IT. I will give it a thought.

  2. Persephone Arbour says:

    The simplest might be using the Conversations tag on my website – posting any letters and their replies specifically on that – but making it a bit more obvious. Maybe like changing the heading ‘Conversations’ to Conversations on ageing – or some such? (after writing this – what should come into my mail box but this wonderful piece by Mark Pilbeam, an old friend of Jack’s . . . it looks as though, with Ericas’s post, we have started the conversation – long may it reign!)

  3. Mark Pilbeam says:

    ‘Ah well, even having met you only once, and before reading the above, I am certain that, once you drop off the perch, and like Jack, you are one of those people of whom it can fairly be said that you will have improved the lives of most of those whom you have encountered.

    While I have tried (mostly) to live by Christian principles, I draw the line at “Churchianity” and have never felt the need to conform or to be perceived as conforming. My refusal to accept such popular beliefs as Darwinism and Anthropogenic Global Warming also stem from this – I have no academic or scientific reputation or credibility to protect.

    Now in my 75th year my main ambition is to discover the afterlife and reunite with those fragments of my soul entity who are “in residence” at that time. Much catching up to be done, as well as planning the details of the next incarnation.
    There’s nothing morbid about this and I’m not in any hurry to die, but I’m running out of curiosity about “Earthschool”, not least because I believe that, for the most part, the course upon which most of Science is set is being guided by a faulty compass.

    So, resulting from the countless mistakes I have made, all of them important for my development and that of those with whose lives I have touched, I have reached a few conclusions which I list below in the hope that someone may benefit from reading them.

    A couple of my favourite quotations. The first is from John Feynman who said (and I probably paraphrase) “The Universe is not only more mysterious than we imagine; it is more mysterious than we are *capable* of imagining.” which I believe is more important in the context of our search for meaning than, say, looking for (and finding) the Higgs Boson.

    And the second is from the Bhudda:

    Believe nothing because a wise man said it,

    Believe nothing because it is generally held.

    Believe nothing because it is written.

    Believe nothing because it is said to be divine.

    Believe nothing because someone else believes it.

    But believe only what you yourself judge to be true.

    So, I have come to believe the following:
    *That the ultimate purpose of the lives of each of us on Earth is to learn unconditional Love of all of creation.
    *That part of the lesson is to understand that no state or condition can exist – or be defined – in the absence of its opposite, and that, therefore, adversity will always exist – otherwise we would not understand its opposite and, therefore, would lack the desire to overcome it.
    *That, as confirmed by the quantum physicists, our perceptions of life are illusory, also that there are an infinite number of parallel universes or, as Terry Pratchett has it, a Multiverse. (“In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” seems apposite.)
    *That each of us is protected, throughout our lives, by a “higher self” or “Daemon”. (I ask, and always receive, the help of mine when in need of support for my rapidly-declining clarity of thought and expression.)
    *That the vulgar pursuit of material wealth, whether successful or not, is a necessary for us to understand its irrelevance
    *That the only expectations that are worth satisfying are those of yourself. I wasted much of my life trying to meet those of others.

    To those more educated than I, (most people), I am sure that my beliefs either lack originality or are commonplace. However, I make no apology for holding them and will welcome any (constructive) comments or discussion.

  4. Persephone Arbour says:

    This piece is from an old friend of Jack’s. I have met him and his wife only once, but was struck by their gentle and wise presence. For me, it is not a matter of whether or not I agree with him, it is the deeply sincere and meaningful place within him that makes me want to share this piece with you. It comes from a good man, who has done his inner work. AND, it is a really great start to this (hopefully) longer conversation between all of us who read (or write!) in this newsletter. If you also have something to say – please send it in!

  5. erica jakobs says:

    PERSEPHONE !!!! I have found you again ! Been wondering what is happening in your life as I never get these wonderful e- mails fr0m you anymore, And now I accidentally stumbled on you on conscious TV, Delight ! No more since 2013 ? Hope you are well wonderful woman where-ever you are. Much love and blessings from erica jakobs up in Findhorn turning 80 in August.

  6. Persephone Arbour says:

    Dear Erica. . . . what a lovely surprise, thank you for writing to me. As you will already see, my idea of many conversations has not materialised in the way I had hoped. Any ideas why not? Is there something that I am missing in the promotion of the idea of an on-going conversation that can be joined by many older people? The internet is not, as I know, a closed book to us older ones!!

    Life with my partner Jack continues to be a joy. I guess we have both learned a bit or two about living with someone else over all these years. I think the words ‘ give and take’ mixed with a deep and accepting love, work well!

    Much love to you Persephone oh, PS Have a good birthday in August . . . .your new life is awaiting you!