Gero-Punk Report: Well done, clouds!

Happy Friday!

I don’t know what it is like where you are, but where I am – Portland, Oregon – it is a wild and stormy day. Rain and wind and dramatic barometric pressure changes (to which I attribute some portion of my existential crisis this week. That, and fluctuating hormones.). I hope the green cherry tomatoes in the raised beds don’t get prematurely detached from their plants, what with all the gusting out there.

I am glad to report that I made it through the week, though I must admit it was a bit dicey there for a bit.

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If you are ever looking for a focus for your contemplations on change and impermanence (and other important ideas, as well), try contemplating the weather.  Remember when I said a couple of days ago that nothing, not one thing, in the universe we live in is permanent and fixed? Well, allow me to introduce to you The Weather. (Right now, as you read this, you are probably thinking—um, yeah. What’s the point?)

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First, a story. I knew a man – I knew him very well – who took it personally when the weather didn’t behave how he wanted it to on any particular day. If he was hoping it would snow and it didn’t, he became sullen. If a cloudless blue sky was in order, but the order wasn’t filled, well—watch out! The entire day could be ruined because the weather had a mind of its own and didn’t fulfill his atmospheric desires.

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Here’s what I know for certain even through I forget it all the time: at least for the time being, in the cosmic history of life on this planet, the sun continues to exist whether or not it is a cloudy day. I may not see the sun, but the bright and shining sun is out there though temporarily obscured by the clouds. The clouds aren’t bad because they are obscuring the sun. The clouds are doing what clouds do. Well done, clouds! And the sun is doing what the sun does—shining on, whether or not humans in Portland, Oregon, can see it through the clouds on this particular day. Well done, sun!  (And another thing to remember—someone, somewhere is seeing the sun right now, unobscured by clouds. I wonder if they are wishing it was a stormy, cloudy day?)

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What’s amusing to me as I contemplate this is the realization that the weather affects me a lot more than I affect the weather.  I’m only half joking when I say that the change in barometric pressure made me come a bit unhinged this week. And remember the story I just told you, about how a person’s emotional experience and disposition on a particular day can be shaped by taking the weather personally?

There’s something really magnificent about realizing that there are certain happenings in the universe that I can do absolutely nothing about, except: behold, dwell, be present.

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One last thing. Though we’ve done our best as humans to confuse the sun as to its place in the universe, and though we tend to say sunny days are better than cloudy days, what happens when we turn our minds to the idea that sun is sun, clouds are clouds, and they both have a purpose? Clouds are here now, they may be gone by Saturday (according to my Smartphone), but you can rest assured, they’ll return. And sun is (at least for now) always there, bright and shining, though temporarily obscured from view by clouds.

About Jenny Sasser, Ph.D.

I am a freelance educational gerontologist, writer, community activist and facilitator. As of 12/21/15, I am former Chair of the Department of Human Sciences and Director of Gerontology at Marylhurst University. I joined the faculty as an adjunct member of the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program in 1997 and since that time, I've been involved in designing many on-campus and web-based courses and programs for adult learners, including in Gerontology. As an undergraduate I attended Willamette University, graduating Cum Laude in Psychology and Music; my interdisciplinary graduate studies at University of Oregon and Oregon State University focused on the Human Sciences, with specialization areas in adult development and aging, women’s studies, and critical social theory and alternative research methodologies. My dissertation became part of a book published in 1996 and co-authored with Dr. Janet Lee--Blood Stories: Menarche and the Politics of the Female Body in Contemporary US Society. Over the past fifteen years I have been involved in inquiry in the areas of creativity in later life; older women's embodiment; sexuality and aging; critical Gerontological theory; transformational adult learning practices; and cross-generational collaborative inquiry. I am co-author, with Dr. Harry R. Moody of Aging: Concepts and Controversies (8th edition). I live in Portland, Oregon with my dog Happy. My daughter Isobel is a Sophomore at Bard College in New York state. I have been on the planet 49 years.
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One Response to Gero-Punk Report: Well done, clouds!

  1. rogeranunsen says:

    Your outlook is spot on. That sun and that blue sky is ALWAYS there, above even those thickest, nastiest clouds. Your outlook reminds me of someone else. In our “Aging Mind” course, we highlight the work of the late Dr. Gene Cohen and the multiple health benefits of one’s outlook. Those who heard Gene will recall how he often drove home his ideas by opening an umbrella that echoed a famous series of magnificent paintings created by Georgia O’Keefe well into her 70s and under clouds of illness. He would conclude that even in under clouds that hold the many challenges of aging, there is always Sky Above Clouds.

    One more note: “Sky Above Clouds: Finding our Way through Creativity, Aging and Illness Time” is the upcoming book begun by Gene and completed by his widow, Wendy Miller Ph.D.

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