On Eldership and Leadership: Me at 100

“We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

Tenneson Woolf posted a harvest of a conversation he recently hosted on Intuitive Knowing, and during that conversation I shared a unique encounter I had earlier this year with my 100 year old self.

It was during a training on Process Work with Dr Stephen Schuitevoerder, where we were invited to explore leadership and eldership. He described, “Having access to a space within ourselves which is big is critical both for ourselves and the world around us.” He talked about how we often project our wisdom onto others and are disappointed by them. But we can take this back by accessing our own eldership. One path is the 100 year old self exercise.

We were to start with a big challenge. Mine was biiiiiiiiiiiiiig. I didn’t want to tackle it. I pouted. My partner convinced me to step into it (thanks Pam!). After giving her the context of my challenge, she suggested that I continue the exercise in a guided visualization. I started by picturing what I was like at 100, close to death and pleased with my life. I had a great life. I began to shapeshift in my mind (and in my chair with my eyes closed). I was me at 100. (Well, at first I was my Grandma, then a quick lightbulb moment that I was supposed to be me and it clicked.) I could see it so clearly – my little apartment on the ground floor, in the heart of a community, children’s laughter coming through the windows, picture after picture on the wall of people I had met on my many journeys. And me making tea for my younger self as I arrived.

My younger self first asked for a tip about something I was noodling on. I was moved to tears at the unexpected wisdom and clarity in the conversation. Then I asked myself about my big challenge, and my feedback was just as intense. I came out of the exercise feeling both heavy and light; deep emotion that also had a calming peacefulness to it. Writing about it takes me back to that chair on that afternoon.

I was the one I was waiting for. The answers were already inside me. Then the big question: how do I need to live in order to cultivate this elder in the future?

How would you answer that question?

Thank you to Benjamin Aaron Degenhart for linking me to a similar practice he had with Joanna Macy.