How Planet Earth Views Aging

A man and woman laying in bed smiling for the camera.

The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.

~Madeleine L’Engle


Aging in Place

Recently I invested 7 glorious days in Maui with family and friends; life in Hawaii is extra-ordinary in every way. I sat one morning in a Safeway parking lot waiting for a coffee shop to open as the sun light gently made the dancing palm trees glow–easing in of another day. I had an aesthetic arrest (stunned by the beauty) in THE SAFEWAY PARKING lot! Try that at home…From hiking Haleakala National State Park to dining at Mama’s Fish House, the week was memorable. However, having noted that, far-and-away the most life-affirming activity was the Sunset & Celestial Cruise (Ma’alaea) with Professor of Astronomy, Harriet Witt in conjunction with the Pacific Whale Foundation.

Harriet Witt is small in stature and BIG in Ideas. As the Pacific Whale Foundation boat glides out into the night’s secrets, she sits atop a cargo compartment with eyes closed–summoning the gods and channeling their celestial mysteries. Then she breaks the trance and begins to work the crowd for queries and thoughts for her star-studded performance. All the while the boat gently rocks side-to-side and is escorted out to sea by pods of spouting whales seemingly determined to get close enough to listen to Harriet’s thoughts…

Witt wields a pointer laser into the night’s sky like a goddess and speaks the poetry of the heavens as you sit taken by her knowledge of the stars/planets and mind-blowing historic Native cultures. Her Enthusiastic delivery lures you into thinking its her maiden voyage on a topic she’s covered many times before.

So you can image how delighted I was a week later to receive an email from Harriet after signing up for her newsletter (see link below). Here is the email and the most thought provoking take on aging I have encountered in a long time:

Dr. Roden,
I’ve orbited the Sun 76 times. I could tell you I’m 76 years old, but I don’t say it that way because I don’t see it that way. I see it the way our Earth does. She knows that what humans call “one year” is one of her – and our – orbits around the Sun. Each orbit is a journey of almost 600 hundred million miles. This means you can measure your age in miles. Of course, doing this results in a cumbersome number, but it’s a scientific reminder that you’re not just getting older; you’re also becoming a more experienced traveler. We seniors can more easily crystallizewisdom from our experience when we’re focused on the journey and not just on the number of years we’ve seen “come and go.” In fact, years do not “come and go”; we orbit through them!

Dr. Roden, if you have a moment, I’d appreciate your thoughts on how to share this perspective. I’d love for everyone to know this: your birthday is returning to the point in our orbit where Earth was at your birth; this is the spot in our orbit that you come back to each year. This is a null point because it’s the end of one cycle and the start of the next. A null point is a time-out-of-time because the old cycle no longer holds sway, and the new cycle has yet to make its mark. So this is an opportunity to change. Trying to change when a cycle is in full swing is like swimming upstream or cutting against the grain.

I like using my null point to examine the ways I’ve changed since my last birthday. This helps me release no-longer-useful beliefs and behaviors that would be excess baggage on my next journey. Yes, each birthday is an opportunity to see what adjustments I need to make if I want to stay on this heavenly ride. So I’ve come to think of my birthday as a way to start fresh – as my own personal new year. When I honor it this way, my birthday is its own gift!

Dr. Roden, you can see from this cartoon of me on my birthday that I’m no artist – but I think you get the picture! Thanks for your consideration.
Aloha, Harriet

I have goose pimples after reading Harriet’s take on aging, it’s fresh, hopeful, and speaks to the possibility of renewal each cycle around the sun.

Here are 2 suggestions:

  1. Visit Maui and take the cruise; you will remember it for the rest of your life
  2. Share this post and know we are made of stardust and our potential for consciousness sat doormat for 14 Billion years until now…This is your time make the most of it. There are no ordinary moments and a simple gaze into the night’s sky is all the reminder you should need.


Harriet Witt The Passenger Planet Society

Contact: [email protected]

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