South African author and student of Jung, Susan Scott, has teamed up with her US counterpart Susan Schwartz to write Aging and Becoming: A Reflective Enquiry, an inspirational book which is receiving rave reviews on both US and UK Amazon sites.
The book is comprised of correspondence between the two authors, which began with each writing back and forth on the letters of the alphabet oriented on the subject of aging.
The two Susans challenge the view that the older woman has little to offer. Rather, aging is an opportunity to express a more rounded out personality as the tug towards becoming authentic becomes more persistent and real. Just as many reflections occur allowing for growth and new ventures to happen.
Each writer feels the shifts on emotional, psychological, mental and physical levels. Many losses occur at this stage of life, with friends and family dying, broken or failed partnerships, illness or incapacitation on the doorstep for many. They address and reflect on these levels, many unsaid, in an in-depth and soulful way bringing forth their own experiences and those of others.
Scott explains the authors’ intention with the book: “This is not a ‘how to’ book. Nor is it a book about what, why, when and where. We’ve used personal stories and shared a few friends’ views. It speaks to our contemporary lives by illustrating the timeless trials and tribulations resonant to every generation.”
Says Schwartz, from her base in Paradise Valley, Arizona: “From the age of 50 onwards, we start to feel age more prominently. The image in the mirror becomes unknown at times. And yet the mind is sharper in many ways, the urge to develop is more insistent. The issues of love and life and the quality of both tug more insistently at our very core.”
Excerpts from Aging and Becoming
“Have you ever had the experience of walking through an airport and all eyes focus at the woman ahead of you? This woman is younger, not young, but younger. All look at her. This is the feeling of non-being that slams you. It seems the older we become the more this occurs. It feels distressing to be invisible. Not that it is preferred to be visible or participate in that kind of façade but the crassness of being ignored is offensive.”
“A woman had a facial procedure because she no longer recognised herself. Her eyes seemed shaded, pulled down, not as open as before. In haste she decided on a lift. Little did she realise that the process involved an inner transformation. Immediately after the operation, she looked in the mirror only to register regret and a horror of what she had done. The hands of time were erased and she looked, of all things, too young, too stripped, too unable to show her personality.”
“We are aware of the ugly side of patriarchy that has for aeons seen women as less than the male and continues in its attempts to keep her subservient. And if not young, lithe and beautiful the older woman is discarded as being of no use. I sense though that this outmoded historical and cultural bias is being thoroughly challenged by both young and older women.”
Reviews of Aging and Becoming
“Wow, a brilliant book. Everything I’ve ever wanted to read about or question in terms of “Aging & Becoming” is held with the beautiful pages of this collaborative soul missive. Put simply, this is an extraordinary enquiry and exploration of life, death and everything in between. The depth and flow of conversation between these two long term (several decades!) students of Jung is astounding! The A to Z topics they touch upon feed mind, body, spirit and soul.” – By Deep in the JUNG-leon
“Reading Aging and Becoming is like having a series of afternoon conversations over tea with two wise and stimulating friends. It’s a privilege to be part of their intelligent and far-reaching conversation. Susan Scott and Susan Schwartz organise their book by writing letters to each other, focusing on topics arranged according to the alphabet. So, the interesting section on Waiting also touches on Winter, Wandering, Widowhood, and the Wheel of life. The authors approach difficult issues with honesty, clarity, and insight, leading the reader into a more meaningful relationship with growing older. The book also helps clarify the benefits and insights gained in the aging process. I especially enjoyed the excellent sections on grief and loss which are commonly experienced by the aging, but rarely discussed with such honesty and hope.” – Elaine Mansfield
“You will be embraced by the immense Jungian knowledge of two very eloquent Jungian women. It reminded me of Jung, in his Red Book, wrestling with the voice of this time versus the voice of the depth.”– Dr Susanne van Doorn
Q&A WITH SUSAN SCOTT
CO-AUTHOR OF AGING & BECOMING: A REFLECTIVE ENQUIRY
South African author and student of Jung, Susan Scott, has teamed up with her US counterpart Susan Schwartz to write Aging & Becoming: A Reflective Enquiry. The book is comprised of correspondence between the two authors, which began with each writing back and forth on the letters of the alphabet oriented on the subject of aging.
What inspired you to write the book?
Dr. Susan Schwartz, a Jungian analyst living in Paradise Valley, Arizona, and I discussed aging at length in correspondence with each other and at meetings, held here and abroad. We wanted to look at aging in an attentive, reflective, in-depth and psychological way as it pertains to each of us. Aging has both of us in its radar. We’re aware of the inevitable losses this time brings; for example, death of partners and friends, unfulfilled dreams, failed relationships and the marginalisation of the older woman as being of no use in this time with the emphasis on youth and beauty. We also wanted to highlight the potentially creative aspects of aging and to recognise this time as one in which to express one’s true self. Aging forces us to face the push and pull, the positive and the negative. If not now, when?
What do you hope that readers will take from it?
We hope that they will look at their lives more fully and in more depth and to pay attention to the messages from their inner being, making the time to ponder on their dreams and reflections. We also hope they can gain an appreciation of the gifts that aging can bring; for example new discoveries, abilities and insights. This stage of our lives is irreplaceable and has many yet unexplored potentials and possibilities. We hope that readers of all ages get this message.
Is it aimed mainly at women or should men read it as well?
We all – women and men, young and old – face trials and tribulations, successes and joys as we traverse through life. We each experience this in our unique ways. Each person will hopefully find recognition of themselves in the stories we tell of our personal experience and women who have shared their stories, as well as of the timeless tales of the ancient past and present shown in myth and legend.
Do you think it has lessons for all of us regardless of age?
Aging happens to all of us, irrespective of where we are. For many it is not an easy or trouble-free stage or process, although age is integral to living.
What was one of the most moving anecdotes for you?
I included what a woman wrote in our book: “Many do not listen to their own voice because they are afraid of discovering it. They are afraid of what they may hear and don’t know that they carry that responsibility, because finding your voice and listening to it pulls you away from crowd thinking and moves you towards being who you really are.” These were powerful and moving words.
Regarding women and aging – is it harder for them than for men?
It is and is not. Both have to face and engage their bodies, psyches and souls. One is faced with doing the undone, living within the limits, enjoying what we are given and suffering the losses. I find it more person than gender related.
Aging – is it harder for western women?
I’m not sure – maybe non-westerners have the comfort of living in extended families where the elder is revered. This happens here in South Africa as well but for our poorer classes and communities this puts a huge strain of the caretaker, often the grandmother. In western societies people too often ignore, deny and avoid the aging process, to the detriment of the enrichment of this time of life.
While not yet available at bookstores in South Africa, Aging and Becoming can be acquired via Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in paperback or Kindle form, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.