We welcomed John Berkowitz to ACC for a second time to continue the conversation previously begun on aging. For a topic as daunting as living and dying, participants were very active and enthusiastic about engaging with one another about it. We opened the discussion by talking about our end of life wishes--the circumstances we hope will surround our death. It was interesting to see the range of preferences individuals subscribed to. While some hoped to die alone, others hope that they will be surrounded by loved ones when their time comes. Some participants expressed they lack a fear of death while others expressed an apprehension surrounding the idea of death. Some talked about how they would like to die according to their own personal interests, while others came from an angle of the interests of their loved ones.
Josh presented the group with a series of poems and quotes to spark discussion. Each managed to successfully touch on different topics, such as how we hope to have lived when "death finds you," embracing the fragility that comes with aging, and what we can do to live each day in a fulfilling way. We even talked about cultural differences in attitude towards aging by using a poem titled "The Beauty of Aging" by Nina Brock. The poem talked about the beauty that surrounds aging in Japanese culture, which stands in stark contrast to American culture, which shies away from the aging process with unease. In Japanese culture, "shibui" (the beauty of aging) encompasses the highest form of respect that is bestowed on the elderly. They are elegant, insightful, and wise--the only ones capable of advising the young.
Many of our participants were interested in attending regular aging meetings held by Josh Berkowitz--a testament to just how eye-opening and needed it was to explore the joys and challenges of aging in a group setting. Allowing us to confront the challenging topic together with others and not alone.
Written by: Daniella Colombo