20 October 2023
8 min read

Hey there intrepid adventurers,

I can’t believe that I’m about to celebrate more than 37 years of being with Susannah and as if that weren’t enough, I’m going to be 60 in less than half a year. When we sent a photo for the newsletter of our wedding day to Laura, our School admin star, she said: ……….’just for the record, I was a year and four days old when this was taken.’ And to think that when we began teaching, we were always the youngest people in our workshops!

So it’s not surprising then, that I’ve begun to notice the presence of ageing in a new way, some of it challenging, some of it more like a harvest celebration and some of it simply hilarious. Those ‘senior moments,’ like the silence that precedes a storm, where joints begin to host little protests, and where memory sometimes takes a leisurely stroll down the wrong lane, have started to happen a little more frequently. And even though I’ve had a relatively ongoing relationship with mortality since I first did a burial ceremony in the late 1980’s, I can hear death’s laughter a little louder in my bones than before. 

Resilience – The not-so-secret Superpower

Don’t get me wrong. I feel fitter and stronger now than I have since my 20’s – not least because Reuben, our son, has convinced us of the benefits of lifting weights, riding a peloton 3 times a week, and working those kettle bell routines with a personal trainer. And there’s no doubt whatsoever that the benefits of doing that physical work are multifold, not least for my Movement Medicine practice.  

So let’s talk about resilience, in modern times amusingly described as a superpower.  Honestly, you’d think it was an invention of our times and that our ancestors had never heard of it. And yet it’s true that due to our modern sedentary state, coupled with a fashion for all hurts now being traumas, we now have to give time to consciously developing something that was part of the ordinary landscape of life on earth in times gone by. I have to admit, it’s one of my little bug bears that so often, people doing ‘spiritual’ work to become more sensitive neglect to include the necessity of the parallel path of building physical strength as much as possible as a partner and ground for that sensitivity. 

Over the years, I notice that my own resilience has transformed from a will-based roaring flame into a steady, burning fire, a silent testament to an ever-growing capacity to look life’s absurdities squarely in the eye and chuckle. Let’s face it, if you can navigate the labyrinthine world and tempo of rapidly changing modern technology, what’s a little existential crisis, right?

Love: The Blossoming of Time

As I mentioned, this newsletter will land the day before our 34th wedding anniversary. We got married after three years together and as we approach the offering of our first couples workshop for a while (and yes – it really is called Forging Understanding, Communication and Kinship in the Space Between Us or F.U.C.K. for short), I’m really noticing the harvest of all those decades of relationship work we’ve done. [1]  

There are many things I’m proud of in my life, not least how our son has grown into such a fine, multi-talented man alongside his beautiful wife, Haein. My wife telling me that I’d managed to support her to develop a second dimple as a result of so much laughter, and the fact that after so long together, the sex gets better than I’d ever imagined was possible or ever heard of, top the list of my significant achievements in life so far.  As you know I’m sure, as time passes, relationships occasionally sprout some rather curious weeds that require some good ongoing acceptance, pruning and attention. The heart, that ever-expanding universe, has the potential with time to become a master at the grand dance of love, spinning between the joyous highs and the not-so-glamorous lows with grace and a touch of flamboyance and style. As we age, the garden of love needs constant weeding, storms of laughter, and the occasional dose of ‘fertiliser’ to bloom in vibrant and unexpected hues. In our case that means getting out the boxing gloves from time to time to safely express the natural rage that’s a powerful part of including our biographies and of life lived together over decades.

The Spice of Life

You might have noticed, as I have, that as the years trot along, your tolerance for superficial connections dwindles, replaced by the very real need for relationships that are more real, honest, and soulful. Those deep, meaningful connections that nourish the soul and equally, test our patience, offer a rich blend of flavour, a genuine feast for the spirit. We often find ourselves raising a glass to friends who’ve stuck around and those who turned out to be ‘spice of life’ lessons wrapped in human form.

Medicine Festival

I often feel such gratitude for the fact that Movement is my Medicine and how that has opened up such deep veins of creativity in every area of my life. Sometimes, I experience my life as a medicine festival so I was glad to attend an event with that name over the summer. Whilst there, I found myself falling into an archetype of elder that I hadn’t really been conscious of. It was a blend of criticism for the ‘youth of today’ and cynicism as I found myself feeling critical of what I was perceiving to be their uniformed, dreadlocked, purchased-shamanic-status-symbolled approach to liberation (😂). 

I’d already been sensing that there was something subtly lurking in the shadow lands of becoming an elder that needed my attention. And here it was, in full technicolour, and acerbic clarity. And to top it all, a young woman of 21 correctly guessed my age. I was momentarily outraged 😂. I’ve been so used to people being surprised at my age because I looked so young, that her guess rather shocked me. 

I went for a walk, nursing my bruised pride, and recognised that here I was again, at the doorway to my own unconscious. I found some good music to move to and as I danced, an old thought arose that I realised I could apply to this new territory. When I teach, my practice has always been to give my attention to the creativity and unique brilliance, bravery, and courage of the people in front of me. I decided to do the same with my fellow attendees at the festival. And guess what? Everything changed. By listening to a different radio station, my perception changed which, as it does, had a knock-on effect for my emotion, actions and the outcome which was a much better sense of connection with where I was and who I was with. Suddenly, I was surrounded by fascinating people, many of whom were much younger than me, and engaged in such rich conversations, that, naturally, proved my new narrative that the next generation are indeed, brilliant, courageous and wise. Sometimes, it really is that simple to change the world – or at least our perception of it. 

Nothing to Do, And Nothing to Say

Not long afterwards, I found myself in ceremony with a fine shaman and old friend from Colombia. I had no role or responsibility and I found it an absolute pleasure to be there, held, in that way. Interestingly, in that ‘nothing to do, nothing to say’ mode, I could enjoy those holding the space on a deeper level than before. More than that, when my mind got a little embroiled in a dialogue about whether I should get my feathers out, I heard my guiding stars whispering in my ear, ‘be still Ya’Acov, your feathers are inside you. Always have been, always will be…..’ Even more interestingly in the midst of this unwilled enquiry as to ‘what does being an elder mean,’ after the ceremony, so many young people came to speak to me about my books, share a dilemma, or directly ask for advice. I was surprised to feel so honoured and respected by so many people there, all without doing a thing. Now there’s a thing for that old ‘I am what I do’ story!

As we enter the Autumn, and Winter is on the horizon, I notice that the seasons of my life are changing too. I have every intention of living long and living well and at the same time, I acknowledge that I am not in control of those outcomes. I do what I can. I will offer what I can. For as long as I can and in the best way that I can, with a touch of sass and a generous sprinkle of laughter, and as much gratitude, creativity and loving as I can squeeze into every day and night that life blesses me with.  

I hope to see you at one of our events online or in a room soon. I the meantime, my love and best wishes go out to you on your journey. 

Cheerfully yours,

Ya’Acov Darling Khan. October 2023.

Ya’Acov DK

Ya’Acov Darling Khan, is the author of ‘Jaguar in the Body, Butterfly in the Heart...