Now, in my 75th year, I am faced with a conundrum. The choice that Lao-Tzu made when he finished his work – to go over the mountain pass and into the West – continues to be alluring to me. Lao-Tzu left behind his transcendent poetry. Were I to go into total seclusion now, I would also leave behind my poetry. (Perhaps not transcendent, but my own.) I have become somewhat of a mountain hermit already, having severed many ties with my culture. Still a nagging sensation in my spirit hints that I have words yet to write. The role of a spiritual Elder is no longer theoretical for me. I am that. I can’t “aw shucks” it away in an attempt to deny my responsibility by hiding behind a facade of humility. I must continue to ponder and to write that which emerges from my pondering.
My personal spiritual journey has given me a unique perspective on humanity and our place on Earth. I have been an Engineer, a clergyman, a Family Therapist, a college instructor, a Zen/Taoist teacher, and an author. Each part of my life has prepared me for the present moment.
As an Elder, I feel I can no longer charge for my work as it is my responsibility and my gift to my wider community. However, in a true “gift economy” the wider community also has a responsibility to the Elder. Nancy and I need some income in addition to our modest royalties and small pension.
As I enter what I hope is the most creative and vital segment of my life, I am led to ask for patronage. The word, “patron” comes from the Latin root meaning, “father.” Thus it carries both light and dark connotations. One can be patronized, that is, treated like an ignorant and incompetent child. In our “stand on your own two feet,” culture, to be patronized in this manner is to be diminished and devalued. On the other hand, one can be supported, valued, and nurtured by a true patron, one who sees and affirms the value within us. True patronage can take many forms. It can be the emotional support of a caring presence. It can also be the practical financial support that manifests in the act of being a “patron” of a museum. a symphony, a theater, a school, or as was common in Renaissance society, of an individual artist or craftsperson.
I will be depending on this process for the support of my later years of Elder creativity. This patronage will enable me to write and teach with a degree of freedom; in a sense to have “tenure” in this last part of my life. Please consider using this helpful organization and website to join with me as a Patron:
You can contribute any amount you wish, but if you can give $20 a month or more you will have access to bi-weekly postings from my personal journal. This will enable a glimpse into my more intimate musings and thoughts as I live, work, and write my way along the path of freedom, simplicity, and joy. It will be a look over my shoulder as I work to heal myself and the land on which I live; as I write my poetry, essays, and novel; and as I give what is my Elder gift to give – my thoughts and words.
A friend writes a blog post I follow and just posted a lovely explanation of the Patreon approach to funding. Read it HERE.
I will continue to write essays for my blog at www.freedomsimplicityandjoy.com that will be available to everyone. To those who have already become Patrons, I am deeply grateful. To those who might consider becoming a Patron: This might be one way of creating a “Council of Elders” which our culture so greatly needs.