STORIES FROM THE LAST THIRD OF LIFE…a report from the front lines of ageing

Normally I try to produce one blog each month. Last month I was focused on shooting and editing small video projects from my work and the work of fellow oral storytellers. This week I finished a trilogy of video stories that come from my live performance based on the memoir. I will share one of them.

The trilogy shares stories from three different stages of life: childhood, adulthood and ageing. I will focus here on the time of ageing. This is of most interest to me because it is the present for me. I have written before in this blog about my decision ten years ago to begin work on stories for the last third of life. Like many creative people I work and re-work an idea in different forms. Elijah Story was first shared as a written story, January 22, 2014, on these pages. It was last performed as a spoken story in my performance of February 19, 2017.

The video telling of the story seemed to me, to call for a third recreation. I decided to focus on the dream sequence in the story. I have the video of me telling the story last February, but I choose to share it as a voice-over to allow for a more dream-like experience. Hopefully, the music and visuals give form to the words and better share the story’s energy.

Ageing is a time of losses and gains. I have lost the vitality of youth both physically and mentally. Sexually, I do not have the drive to fantasize about and engage the opposite sex in the ways of a young man. Mentally, I worry about the loss of memory and the ability to care for myself—independence is important to me. But these losses are balanced by gains in other ways. My mind is not bedeviled by sexual fantasies; I am free to explore the unconscious energy present in my dreams. I worry less about success and personal achievement; I have time to go where my ideas take me. I have more time to play with my ideas and not worry about what they will produce financially.

My time of ageing—I will be seventy-five in two months—has been productive. I think this is true mostly because I have found ways to make myself useful to others in this world—mostly my wife and storytelling friends. Because of the memoir project I have gone back to shooting and editing video projects. Presently I am thinking about a documentary film project that explores the meaning of story. My fifty years of sharing fairytales, folktales, myths and historical stories has provided a wealth of experience. It is time to explore what I have learned about story and then begin to interview others who have shared a similar life’s work. In the future, I imagine creating an archive for our work as oral storytellers.

As I try to share in the Elijah story, the balance of the intuitive and the rational is vital to me. Grandpa Jung taught me long ago to explore the unconscious with my conscious mind. It is the convergence of these two gifts that make us whole and complete as human beings.

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