The Warmth of the Heart Prevents Your Body from Rusting by Marie de Hennezel is a book worth reading if you are contemplating the third stage of life and looking to get some insights into how best to live these years. With humor, lessons learned by the author, wise words from elders and ideas presented by laymen, poets and philosophers, this gem of a book advocates what the title implies; With an open and loving heart, one may grow physically old, but the heart, that center of spirit, creativity and vitality can remain forever young….up until our last breath.
One of the great values of this book is that it is a treatise on how to grow old and not become old. Growing old is natural…..we start growing old from the day we are born. Being old is a state of mind characterized by feelings of bitterness and sadness about life. It is a refusal to age, to accept this life stage, and paradoxically, results in the inability to step in and embrace the “golden years” and the richness that it has to offer.
One of the greatest gifts this book has to offer is that while very positive and supportive about the opportunities that become available to us as we grow older, it acknowledges the realities of aging as well. As someone in the parking lot of my gym said the other day, “Growing older is not for sissies.” Ms Hennezel doesn’t sugarcoat what happens as our bodies begin to fail us. But instead of leaving us there, she offers us a new paradigm of living WITH all the frailties and failings while embracing a deeper and richer connection to oneself and the world around us.
This new paradigm requires each and every one of us to show up in our own aging. It demands that we not fall prey to what we no longer have or what we can no longer do. Instead, it calls upon us to let go of our youth, accept our inevitable death and to use the time we have left to discover parts of ourselves that we never knew existed: To see things we may have missed and to hear what was up until now, unspoken. It is a time for new realizations and self discovery – a time to be get in touch with our deepest selves and to be open to what is revealed to us. And, it is through the warm and open heart that we make this journey back to ourselves.
By Roberta Teller