What compels a person who in a few months will celebrate her 80th birthday to amass more and more knowledge? To travel for 5 hours twice in 3 weeks and spend 24 hours in intensive lectures, demonstrations, and practice, in order to incorporate one more innovative technique in her practice with trauma sufferers? On top of that to enroll in online courses, watch and listen to podcasts and webinars, and enroll in conferences both as a presenter and a participant, instead of sitting in the backyard with a good book, or listening to music, or connecting with her grandchildren and other family members? The truth is she does those things as well, and enjoys her garden and art, as well as her relationships with her husband and friends.
I know this person well, and with every new endeavor, study and investigation she manages to have a better insight into herself, and a better way of dealing with the world around her. Her activities help her realize that there is indeed work she can still undertake, and with it make a difference in the world around her. I know this woman well, and my friendship with her and compassion for her struggles and accomplishments deepen our connection with each other. We know that we will never be lonely, even when we are alone. Every investigation and task she involves herself in makes it clearer that we can still be significant. I am sure you have realized by now that I am this woman.
Far from tooting my horn, I am trying to convey what my mother always instilled in me when she proclaimed “Every day that I learn something new I am not aging.” It is not the fear of death, but rather the desire to be curious and open to innovations, and to feel productive, for as long as there is breath in my lungs and enough grey matter in my brain. Life endowed me with larger and smaller traumatic events which I processed with the tools I had available to me at the time. I now realize that perhaps some of the suffering I endured, and actions I took, could have been avoided had I possessed the resources and knowledge I have now amassed.
It is up to us to nurture the ability of our body to stay flexible and active, to find the activity we most enjoy, and invest our time and energy in maintaining it. I find myself invigorated by swimming regularly and by practicing Qigong. I find joy in singing and voice lessons, not in order to perform, but in order to give myself the gift of perfecting one more piece of music which I can interpret according to my mood at a particular time. This is for my soul. My belief that I am not in control of everything in my life and the ability to see a greater master to the universe, fills me with calm. Yet I must involve myself in healing trauma in the world – not just in my small practice and in supervising other therapists, but in joining movements of healing trauma in the only world we know.
In spite of the efforts undertaken by groups and world movements to make governments and society aware of the dangers of climate change, and the general understanding that many disasters these days result from of our neglect in correcting the situation, there are many other trauma-related situations that only now start to surface in our consciousness: the environmental and social traumas of our world, which are caused directly to ourselves, by ourselves. I refer to war, poverty, discrimination by color, creed and social standing. It is not new, and though much of it has existed for millennia, the realization that the trauma caused by violence is pervasive and can actually be healed if we create a massive community of healing, is something that evolved in the last 15-20 years. During the pandemic, when online groups started to flourish, I joined a group of the Pocket Project- restoring a fractured world, organized by a group led by Thomas Hübel. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to participate in one of the “war” groups which included 25 people from all over the world. There were many more groups on different subjects; all together, about 2,500 people participated. We worked every two weeks for 2 hours together, while once a month Thomas gave a session. We are about to finalize the project this week, and many of us have chosen to stay in touch. It was a very deep and moving experience, and I am signed up to continue as one of the facilitators.
Thomas Hübel is not the only one who has realized that we need to make the world aware of the traumatic events we ourselves inflict on our society. Organizations that recognize the impact of a wide variety of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in shaping adult behavior are becoming more active in the United States and Canada and spreading to other parts of the world. One such organization is PACEs, a social network engaged in educating health providers, education providers, and policy-makers about Adverse Childhood Events and resilience. Another important person to watch and listen to is Dr. Gabor Maté, a trauma specialist in Vancouver who works with the Aboriginal population, as well as people suffering from addiction. I recently watched a film created on his work and life that premieres this week for free, you can still view it. It is part of a 7-day free event with top practitioners in the world today discussing trauma with Gabor. The series Wisdom of Trauma is available until June 13 at midnight, and so is the film.
I hope I infected you with the incurable virus of permanent youth through lifelong involvement and thirst for knowledge and creative outlets. Gesundheit.