The Making of an Old Soul
By Carol Orsborn, Ph.D.
This excerpt is from The Making of an Old Soul: Aging as the Fulfillment of Life’s Promise, the healing vision of aging by a woman who is a scholar in the field of adult development as well as a lifelong seeker. Based on a mystical experience that sheds light on the entire arc of life, Carol Orsborn’s latest work revisions age not as diminishment but as the fulfillment of life’s promise.
We who have birthed not just one but two generations comprise a cohort of lifelong seekers. We’ve grown through many of the stages of life, drawn forward by a yearning for something more. We’ve navigated crisis and we’ve seized opportunity. We have learned that when it comes to our children and grandchildren, the love in our hearts is all for the good and can be trusted. And so it is that I wish us all a safe and easy journey through the rest of life. But history, both personal and communal, reports that not all the storms are behind us and more often than not, the sea of life upon which we and our offspring set forth will toss us about, waves lashing first our bow then our stern.
“When it comes to transiting into and through challenges, the losses that come about with advancing age turn out to be the very means of advancement.”
Here’s the good news. Growing older has an advantage and in the sequence of the life stages represent an order, an internal logic, and a progression leading author and mystic John C. Robinson to refer to aging as “evolution in slow motion.” For those of us who have been lifelong seekers, we are discovering a world inhabited by old souls where things that once caused you pain or compulsion no longer carry the power to devastate. Amends and forgiveness, compassion, and expanded perspective come quicker and easier and you rarely fall into the pit of taking seriously the familiar but outgrown stories about the inevitability of worst possible outcomes for long.
There have been many who have endured the rougher passages of the journey to the world of old souls and survived to tell the tale, writers and teachers like Ram Dass, Florida Scott-Maxwell, and Joan Chittister. Not only did they survive, but they emerged more vital, more integrated, more connected to life’s possibilities, not despite of, but because of having undergone challenges. What they discovered is that where your world temporarily seems to fall apart is also the place where the status quo has the least grip on you, and where you are most able to let go of old structures, illusions, and outgrown ways of being and take up the new. When it comes to transiting into and through challenges, the losses that come about with advancing age turn out to be the very means of advancement.
Here, the charge is to confront and then clear away the debris of regret, victimhood, blame, self-doubt, and all manner of misunderstanding from your path. Love—for self and those for whom you care—is the only prerequisite, providing a reliable reservoir of qualities from which to draw. Patience; compassion for self, others, and the world; generosity and faith. And finally, however long or short your lifespan, the number of setbacks and breakthroughs along the way, there will, at last, be an arrival. None of the facts of your life needs to change, you will still be you, and if anything, more so. But that which you have yearned for all your life will no longer elude you. You will have not only grown old: You will have grown an old soul.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – CAROL ORSBORN, PH.D.
Carol Orsborn’s The Making of an Old Soul will be published in both paperback and eBook format by White River Press on October 1, 2021, and will be available through major bookstores both in-person and online. The website for the book, with discussion questions for book clubs, excerpts, ordering links, and more, is CarolOrsborn.com.