First, a Thank You
The start of a New Year is often time of reflection. What has been? What would we like to see in the year to come? Today seemed the perfect time to share this bite-sized post. First, a special and very heart-felt note of appreciation to Chip Conley of The Modern Elder Academy, Back in July 2021, Chip invited me share this post on his Wisdom Well. If you have yet to visit his site, I encourage you to do so. It is a vast and thoughtful resource that truly lives up to it’s name!
Spending much of his time at MEA retreat center in Todo Santos, Mexico, Chip Conely is an entrepreneur and advocate for the value of wisdom that comes with age. He is an American hotelier, foundation builder, grant maker, author, and speaker, who is also on the board of Burning Man. It is my pleasure to share a reprint of this post here.
>>> If you would like a DEEPER DIVE into this post, feel free to jump to the FULL-LENGTH article from which this post has been excerpted. There, you can see some “throw-back” photos of Rocky throughout the decades and find ADDITIONAL questions for own self-exploration. CLICK HERE to Jump Ahead
Chakra: in ancient Sanskrit, chakra means “wheel” and refers to energy points in our bodies. Decade: a period of ten years.
Decade 1 – Birth to Ten Years: 1951 – 1961
The First Root Chakra: Muladhara means Base of Support at the base of the spine. These chakra qualities are grounding, stability, security and support.
My earliest memory: I am 4- 5 years old, sitting on Grandpa Winn’s lap. He is teaching me to tie my shoes. I feel secure and loved. I start school. I feel different from other children. I want to stay home and play. I hate school. I have a dark secret…I like other boys. My grounding base of support are my parents, sister, cousins, aunts and uncles. I feel seen and loved.
As a child what were your fears?
Decade 2 – Ten to Twenty Years: 1961 – 1971
The Second Sacral Chakra: Svadhistana means Inner Dwelling Place at the reproductive organs. These chakra qualities are fluidity, receptivity, creativity, and pleasure.
I am drawn to God, even at ten years old. I still think I may be the only boy growing into a young man who is attracted to the same sex. I have a girlfriend, we have sex. At the end of this decade, I discover my full sexual
expression with another man. I am 18 years old. It is indeed an inner dwelling place.
What were your first sexual experiences and how did they impact you?
Decade 3 – Twenty to Thirty Years: 1971 – 1981
The Third Solar Plexus Chakra: Manipura means City of Gems at the solar plexus, our core. The chakra qualities are vitality, determination, conscious action and divine will.
College graduation arrives. In West Berlin, I enter the world stage as a performer, full of vitality and determination. A vagabond, I travel seven years, Germany, England, and the west coast of the U.S. A contract is canceled at a Nevada casino, the owner’s girlfriend suspects my homosexuality. I don’t even know her. I retreat deeper into the closet.
When have you felt the power of your gut?
Decade 4 – Thirty to Forty Years: 1981 – 1991
The Fourth Heart Chakra: Anahata means Unstruck/Unhurt at the heart center. These chakra qualities are love, compassion, empathy and forgiveness.
I learn lessons of the heart: self-love, self-compassion, empathy, forgiveness and ultimately self-acceptance. My sales and executive career flourishes. My life feels compartmentalized: a kind of don’t ask/don’t tell existence. I come roaring out of the closet in 1988 as another anti-gay ballot measure lands on the Oregon ballot.
When has your heart been broken? How did you grow?
Decade 5 – Forty to Fifty Years: 1991 – 2001
The Fifth Throat Chakra: Vishuddha means Purification at the throat center. These chakra qualities are communication, expansion, discernment and purification.
AIDS purifies my spirit. It is work for my soul. This pandemic is way beyond the effects of my personality. I explore my own internalized anger and homophobia. My partner dies of AIDS. It is 1993. In 1994, I meet Richard: hard-working, passionate, fun, loyal, kind, generous, opinionated, a natural leader, curious. I could not have recognized these qualities in Richard unless I owned them in myself. 27 years and we are still growing.
When and how did you find your authentic voice?
Decade 6 – Fifty to Sixty Years: 2001 – 2011
The Sixth, Third Eye Chakra: Ajna means Wisdom between the brows. These chakra qualities are intuition, wisdom, clarity and vision.
I am connecting with my wisdom body. Aware of my internal guidance system, my intuition, mental clarity and vision are the benefits. I begin performing again. I approach life with a fearless attitude. I put myself back on stages. I am aware life is expressing through me. I just have to get out of the way.
When do you completely lose track of time?
Decade 7 – Sixty to Seventy Years: 2011 – 2021
The Seventh Crown Chakra: Sahasrara means Infinite at the crown of the head. These chakra qualities are freedom, unity, lightness and joy.
I trust my own life experience to answer the questions I seek. I continue to be conscious of the choices I make. Every choice has a consequence. How do I take what I read, write, study, feel, and absorb and apply to my life?
My life has been an outworking of my thoughts. What if I could truly grasp “the other person represents a part of me?” Would I be more kind? More attentive? More forgiving? More compassionate? Less judging?
A Deeper Dive
If this inspires you and you’d like to take a deeper dive into this material, you may enjoy the FULL-LENGTH article from which this post has been excerpted. It includes a more thorough exploration of the topic and additional questions that you can mine for your own self-discovery. Just for fun, you’ll also find “throw-back” photos that capture many of the highlights from the seven decades of my life to date. CLICK HERE to view the FULL-LENGTH Article
Rocky is a Stanford DCI Fellow/Partner, class of 2019. Yoga teacher, student of life with a focus on the integration of body, mind and spirit. To continue this discussion about your own process of aging, you are welcome to email Rocky at [email protected]