By Strohmann Breeding
It was a cold Monday afternoon at Butterfield Trail Village when 21 OLLI students met, led by OLLI-instructor, Glenn Siegel to discuss aging. Siegel led the course titled “Life Cycles.”
“Each of us is in the same boat,” Siegel said, underscoring the class and its motives, to discuss aging among elders and aging people. OLLI students went around the room, introducing themselves and revealing why they decided to take the course, allowing bits and pieces of information about theirselves, mixed with their shared interests.
“aging and being an elder is not what it is today compared to what it was in the past, and I want to speak on that today.”
Students were given the opportunity to discuss what the words “elder or elder-hood” meant to them. Ranging and transforming into a discussion about technology, and the roles of aging people in society and especially in the family life. Students shared personal stories, creating a welcoming mix of sorrow and gratitude within reflection of the past.
Siegel dived into the facts that humans are animals, and are in turn supposed to, if not required to be connected to the natural world.
“The natural world has life cycle and death cycle and they’re intertwined fully” Siegel said, emphasizing how we are not disconnected from the earth, but in fact how connected we already are.
Siegel discussed individual impacts, transitioning into discussing the food industry, and how older people can gain independence in order to feel human.
“The more disconnected we become, the more that becomes the nature things are.”
Siegel emphasized how every individual member of the aging community brings something incredibly unique to the table, pushing forward in society and some sort of mentorship. Speaking on death and the ever-changing relationship between life & death. Discussing how to welcome death in a calm and unsurprising fashion.
The class then took a turn into discussing how society views feelings, and what feelings are encouraged. Siegel brought up grief, stating, “If you live long enough, you will lose everything you love.” Articulating the reality that comes with outliving loved ones and the inevitability of memory loss.
Grief comes with deaths of many types, ranging from physical death to deaths of dreams, Siegel emphasized, as the class transitioned to speak upon society and other disparities we acknowledge as hindering our ability to operate as citizens of the natural world, not anomalies living on it.
The class discussed how society is ever-transitioning to recognize more players at the table and bridge the gaps between them.Gender divides have come together and created more divides within our countries and world. Siegel also pointed out how to fully perpetuate the message of equality in today’s world.
Siegel used the second hour of the class to discuss different directions of life, detailing 4 directions or cycles we, as humans, endure.
Siegel detailed how every direction brings different temperatures and memories, offering new experiences through maturing attitudes. These seasons bring are where every experience lies in our lives.
“When you fully embrace every facet of yourself, you have so much to contribute to the culture.”