By Paula Hamilton
CENTENARIANS TELL IT LIKE IT IS
What I liked most about this fifty-five minute video, featuring men and women 100 years old and older, is their vitality. I suppose I fear aging, or at least the frailty and vulnerability that accompanies it, just as much as anyone in our youth driven society. I've spent a great deal of my nursing career in nursing homes and working with the elderly, partly as a "mission" or vocation within a vocation, and partly to dispel fears about aging.
Seeing happy, relatively healthy and vibrant people who are in this video because they are 100 (or older!) is just the kind of counter-conditioning we need.
One thing I always liked about working with the elderly is the years of experience and wisdom they carry. Not to glorify (I have met quite a few old fools in my day) but for the most part by the time we have accumulated a great number of years we usually have acquired at least a little wisdom to go with it. Even if that wasn't the case, I could never get enough eye-witness accounts of the major milestones in our century: the Great Depression, the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, WWI, WWII. Not to mention inventions: electricity, indoor plumbing, automobiles, telephones, peanut butter!
One of the patients that stands out in my memory was a man who had been in Europe during WWI. He told me such a story! Horror, great courage, honor and dishonor. I felt such a gamut of emotions; fear, shame, pride. I could never have lived that experience, and gained that insight if he hadn't told me that tale. I'll never forget it. Another patient of mine was a Jewish survivor of a concentration camp, tattoo and all. He was amazing.
This video, done in interview style, tries to incorporate the best of what the grace of age has to offer. Recollections of days gone by, memories, and their feelings upon first seeing the daily inventions we take for granted. One description was a 101-year-old physicians remembrance of the invention of the X-ray. One woman recalled when Oklahoma was still Indian Territory and had not yet been made a state! However, age has other engaging points to present, lest we repeat our history.
One woman told her remembrance of WWI, "the war to end all wars". As she put it "That's what we were told, so we believed it, but of course it didn't happen." (There's a lesson to be learned from the past, if we pay attention.) One gentleman's opinion of politicians was they were a necessary evil but "most of them have been a disaster for the country". Touché. Opinions on children, politics, society abound from an unusual perspective, 100 and over. The oldest was a woman 106. I would have put her at 25 to 30 years younger.
Interestingly, from a nurses perspective, were their opinions on longevity. Most simply said they didn't know, but some suggested they had lived in a time of significantly lower stress! Noteworthy. They also endorsed the Golden Rule, recommended being forgiving, and suggested laughing frequently. This is a great video. I think everyone should access the opinions, thoughts, views, feelings, recollections and advice of the oldest people in our society. We'd be better off if we did.
Available from Matrix Video, P.O. Box 20700, Charleston, SC 29413 or call 1 (800) 289-0758 for more information.
LAKOTA MEDICINE WALK HEARING ONE VOICE
Leska Productions Although I didn't receive any information with this video, I know there is a book on the Lakota medicine walk. An ancient Native American rite of Spiritual passage, it involves wandering into the open wilderness alone, to hear what the Creator, Wankan-Tanka has to tell you. To "walk the path of Wisdom, and see with the eyes of Understanding" one's relationship to all things. "The two-legged, the four-legged and the winged ones all live as relatives on the Earth." The Medicine Walk is to understand your position relative to all this; your relationship to the Creator. It was very spiritually moving to read an account of it in a book, but very interesting to see it portrayed on video. This particular journey consisted of three days.
The first spent in the Badlands of South Dakota. the delicate grasses and wildflowers were sprinkled against the backdrop of enormous rock cliffs, desert sand and expanse of blue sky. We are told to walk slowly, then listen with a single ear. As we journey the rocks many eyes speak of the eyes within, that see Wisdom. the second day is spent in the mountains. Among the powerful peaks and clear flowing brooks. We continue to journey and the tress tell us whenever we stand on Mother Earth we are not alone. As night falls, our image is lost among the image of the rocks.
Day three is spent on the prairie. waving grasses and grazing animals. All the voices are heard as one voice. The voices tells us we are more than brother, "As a caterpillar is more than brother to the butterfly." Filmed in the region of the Dakota's, Wyoming and Montana in such beautiful areas as Sage Creek, Black Hills, Devils tower and Medicine Rock. It's a chance to get out of the city and realize not everything is covered in concrete.
What a beautiful place our world is! This fifty-minute video cannot hope to capture it all, but it may inspire you to go on a Medicine Walk of your own. I really believe our feelings of detachment stem from the broken ties with nature and natural places. The power that radiates from the ground and mountains, wide expanse of sky and trees has become something we may see on vacation once a year, if we're lucky. Otherwise we really end up living in a concrete jungle most of the time.
Unconquered land is as rare as extra time. I think a rite of passage is a badly needed thing in our modern society; it would reduce a lot of social ills and confusion. A spiritual journey in the open unprotected spaces of wilderness is a powerful thing. Something that many of us may never be able to do, but this video may give you an idea of what it would be like.
Available from Leska Productions, P.O. Box 24, Leo, IN 46765 or call 1 (888) 774-3752.
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