All things must change
to something new, to something strange.
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

I'm now in my 50th year, as my husband likes to remind me (I wonder what he might be planning for my big Five-O). I keep telling him, "Honey, I'm forty-nine."

And oh...am I changing. Being changed. I have a cousin who's as close as a sister, who's seven months older than me. I sense us studying each other whenever we're together, both marveling (and sometimes gulping) at the silver threading through our hair; the etchings of time across our faces. It's both profoundly comforting and shocking to be pushing fifty and sitting across from someone you've known your entire life...

We've reached a time when the changes of aging become undeniably apparent.

How does a person live through the shift into elderhood without going more or less mad with fear? When parents, elders, friends, and so many cherished animal companions have died?

I've been grappling with the sequence of hexagrams 48 (THE WELL), 49 (REVOLUTION), and 50 (THE CAULDRON). It's interesting to note that REVOLUTION is contained, in a sense, by the presence of two vessels. One, the well, holds basic sustenance: water. The other, the cauldron, holds elements that are undergoing transformation through the process of being heated or cooked. Alchemy is at work here, right under our noses.

Nourish; sustain; hold steady, like a cauldron whose legs are stable and strong. Something entirely new is being called forth. Whatever our concern, solutions can always be found in natural cycles...even when we feel ourselves to be the spinning pivot of change; when we look into a mirror and don't recognize the face therein. When we feel like Alice, dazed among the strange creatures of Wonderland: “I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir,” said Alice, “because I’m not myself, you see.”

(Anne-Renée Dumont, Alice in Wonderland)


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