The Power of the Third Act

Posted: 25/05/2012 in Education, Health, Insight
Tags: , , , ,


I have just watched this Jane Fonda TED talk on the Third Act, and enjoyed it greatly:-

I even sent the URL to a few friends of the not-quite-so-young variety, and one friend, Dottie, said of the previous elder generations “And they did live their “third act” well…. My great-grandmother lived by herself until cancer hit her when she was 88. And she was still shooting foxes that got into her chicken coop 🙂 ”

Then it struck me I had deluded myself in part. Firstly Jane Fonda can “delude” me euphemistically any time. From a physical appreciation of her in Barbarella and Klute followed by her politicisation in China Syndrome and other activism, I have to admit my hormones made my appreciation of her talk lacking in criticism – what I usually refer to as “dick-led”.

Early on in the talk she mentioned that the Third Act was the time for the human spirit, whilst as a Buddhist I would use mind – or higher faculties of mind, this understanding completely swayed me on her side. I am the wisest I have ever been, note the relative wisest I am not saying I am wise (absolutely). This “wisest” truth is a typical frustration (of the old) in some ways because that limited wisdom has no outlet other than blogs, but compared with all the wasted energy forced to be expended in the wage-slave compromises of my working life the freedom my hard-earned pension gives me enables a perspective devoid of these compromises.

In my mind there are no doubts at all, the Third Act is the time for the human spirit; and I believe that time is part of the natural order. The Elders are wise, they have experience, and have much to offer. I imagine tribal man looking after the elderly a little helping them forage for food and seeking their advice, is this true or a romantic perception? More recently the old retire to write books that are never read – like blogs, the natural function of passing on their wisdom. But in western society how are the old envisioned? Pains in the arse who have to be looked after or money found to put them in a home.

So I come back to my friend’s quote and I realise that there are fallacies in Jane’s excellent talk. Firstly the Third Act is the Act of wisdom but many of our older friends are not in a position to give of that wisdom. Dottie also said “But with the present generation of people in their 80’s, I’m finding some of them to be more disgruntled than my grandparents & great-grandparents were….”. I think they are disgruntled for a number of reasons, including having been suffering with their health for a much longer period.

Let’s begin with that health. Dottie’s Great Gran was out on the farm shooting chickens late into her 80’s, her farm diet and life outdoors sustaining her body allowing her human spirit to develop. But for the disgruntled Dottie mentions, these people have spent a lifetime on a 20th century toxic diet leaving them in their old age in a constant battle with degenerative disease such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s etc. As our bodies age they take their toll on what Jane Fonda described as human spirit, and if all that people can remember is their recent life of fighting degenerative disease it is no wonder they are disgruntled. But ageing need not be bound up with suffering, we don’t have to have our human spirit tied down by our bodies, if we eat healthily live within the necessary natural bounds of our ageing bodies then the Power of the Third Act can be enabling in that the human spirit can soar – without the tempestuous problems associated with youth and without the enslaving compromises of the 1%.

I think there is another important contribution to the making of Dottie’s disgruntled. As the 20th century turned into the 21st so our culture has become more and more youth orientated. In my profession, teaching, teachers are marginalised as they get older – long before retirement. There is a professional reason for this, the students are so ill-disciplined that the older teachers don’t have the energy to chase around trying to keep them in check. But if you find a more sensible discipline situation – a big if, then your experience and understanding has much to offer. Unfortunately the older are wiser and see through much of the hypocrisy of those young people in charge and it is much easier to control the less wise young. Often enough these sycophantic young are put in charge by the profiteers, and as happened with me I watched a succession of young careerists compromising education for the profits of the owners and the advancement of their own careers. Whilst I did some fighting it just got harder and harder to deal with their lies and watch the unnecessary impacts on the students’ education. I am sure the same is true in other professions, this youth orientation.

Occupy gives me hope in this. I watch Occupy and I see a great deal of wisdom in these young people but I also see on the periphery many elders who I hope are having an influence. Maybe I am deluding myself.

Jane Fonda said that now in the Third Act statistically we are older longer. My hormones let that one slip by, because as Dottie said “that stat probably includes many children dying from diseases that we are no longer dying from….”. And now I am not sure where the truth lies. It seems generally accepted that fewer children are dying from childhood diseases but now many of our children are suffering from the damaging plethora of vaccinations. Then we have to ask questions connecting health and medicine. In our working life we might take more antibiotics to be at work longer but does the increasing damage to our liver help us? In general how much does the medicine we take actually help us? I feel far healthier from a good natural diet, do not visit pharmaceutical doctors – occasional visits to the acupuncturist, so I say to you Jane we need to give the description of the health component of the Third Act much more consideration.

As we are older so the health of our bodies more severely impacts our well-being because of the increasing effects of degeneration. So our Third Act might well begin with a detox leading to a recognition of natural diet – Zandtao Healing Plan is an example. Over the 7 years it takes for our bodies to regenerate through the healthy food, our human spirit can begin to soar, and following that regeneration we can review our lives and offer help to others. Hopefully then more people will recognise the greater potential for the Third Act to contribute to life’s wisdom. Such a contribution however is unlikely to occur if the major value that our society places on human beings is their value as wage-slaves to produce more profit – 1% it is time for you to learn the value of the wisdom of age.

Occupy the Third Act.

Update 8/6/12

Gavin from Inner Quests sent this link. This describes her search for spirit through Christianity – fascinating. Worth a fan-tasy!!

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