The Power of Ageing

‘Don’t be afraid. Change is a beautiful thing’, said the Butterfly’. (Sabrina Newby)

HOM: Managing Impulsivity/Listening with Understanding and Empathy 

One of the three marks of existence in Buddhism is Anicca. This is the recognition that in life all things change and nothing can stay the same. Buddhism goes on to teach that much of our suffering follows our inability to accept this; however, the wheel of life turns whether we like it or not. Buddhism also offers a well-trodden pathway towards acceptance of such change and is steeped in an ancient wisdom from which we can all learn.

At the end of school year, our thoughts naturally turn to both reflections of the past year and what we have learned, but also to the changes ahead. For some, these changes will involve saying farewell to their time at Wychwood and setting out for pastures new: perhaps a new school, university, work, or travel. We say goodbye to friends and former colleagues knowing that the year ahead, even if some things have continuity, can never be the same.

Some changes are chosen but many changes are as a result of Anicca. Either way, change can provoke anxieties as we look ahead to the adjustment required, and perhaps mourn a little for the things we may have to leave behind. It is then that we may glean some wisdom from the contemplation of butterflies. We can learn a lot about our own growth from the lifecycle of a butterfly, which goes through a series of radical transformations to become the butterfly it is meant to be.

For a caterpillar to become a butterfly it must change. Likewise, nothing in our human world is permanent. Some things go and are replaced by the new. Sometimes we have to let the old go so that the new can come. Despite the cocoon being the comfort zone of the caterpillar, it has to emerge from this state. Otherwise, we would never have the beautiful butterfly.

Similarly, we have to move beyond our comfort zones in order to move forward, to learn and to grow. And this is the power of ageing if we allow it, at whatever age or stage we happen to be. The butterfly is a great symbol of change, transition, adaptation, and growth.

So here’s to both endings and looking forward new beginnings – happy holidays everyone!

Christine Crossley