As I age, I am more and more intrigued by tales of aging in other cultures… the journey from Youth to Elder… from Maiden to Crone … the challenges that cannot be imagined in our youth… the opportunities that still exist for growth, transformation and the gaining of wisdom.
Cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien shares a wonderful story of initiation into these mysteries and possibilities in her book ” The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom“. The tale is culled from her work as a cultural anthropologist, and includes universal themes she has found across many cultures.
In her telling, we arrive in this world through the Silver Gate and depart through the Gold Gate, and along the way pass through six more gates such as the White Picket gate, where we discover who we truly are, and the Natural Gate, where we learn how to achieve happiness, satisfaction and peace. As we pass through each gate, with its specific challenges and wisdom, we learn and grow.
This week I have been pondering creativity, and the role it plays in my life… and in the lives of my friends, family and clients. Arrien says this is in the realm of The Rustic Gate, the portal to creativity, service and generativity (“to initiate, to inspire, and to originate something that is meaningful, hopeful, and sustainable for ourselves and others”).
Arrien describes creativity as “a fire that burns no wood” and our guide in the tale reminds us that one cannot pass through The Rustic Gate unless “you tend to the creative fire, and leave behind work that is connected to your dream”.
At this gate we examine our connection to meaningful work, to creativity, and reassess our mission in life. At this gate, we ask the questions, quoted in her book:
- Are we doing work that serves others or generates a meaningful legacy?
- If not, why not?
- What do we want to contribute to this world?
So I am asking myself these questions as I work in the meadow of The Rustic Gate…. and will continue to ponder, as there is so much I want to contribute to this world.
Take this opportunity to spend some time in your Rustic Gate.