THE ART OF AGING – Part XII: Power—Want it?

Power . . . the one thing that everyone wants and spends a lifetime seeking!

Power creates and destroys. Power fuses and dismembers. Power is a universal dream and a universal regret.

Dictionaries summarize power to be: The ability to do or act; a particular faculty of body or mind; government, influence, or authority; mechanical force; nature.

As far as humans go, we’re drawn to various types of power, such as —

1. Authority

Battled, balked at, and sought after, authority is an expression of power exercised by politicians and waitrons alike.

One of five gold crowns from the Silla Kingdom 1st Century BCE 7th Century CE

2. Money

Money may be the proverbial root of all evil, but it’s a heavy-duty magnet to those who believe it is fundamental to feeling and being powerful. Did you buy your lottery ticket for this week’s draw?

3. The Helper

Medical personal, life coaches, missionaries, teachers and the like can feel powerful as they come to the aid of others, perhaps expressing altruistic power. Amazing is the self-sacrificing power of those who nurture their offspring, especially young parents whose boldness in daily situations is but a brief reflection of how they hold the future of a young life in their hands.

4. Pussy Power

Archeologists unearth Mythical BAUBO sculptures

Spanning millennia is the belief that the vagina holds the universal secret to the essence of human power. Add authority to pussy power, and one encounters the likes of Egyptian Pharaoh Cleopatra (69-30 BC), Queen Zenobia (240-275) of Syria, and Mongolian Empress Borte Ujin (1161-1230) who was the wife of Genghis Khan. Source

Consider present-day pussy power holders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi who coined the slogan, Black Lives Matter, and how this slogan has created significant cultural and economic change over the last decade!

From the mythical Baubo to Gustav Courbet’s famous nude painting, Origin of the World, or from slick underwear ads to human trafficking, the clout of sexual power is undeniable.

5. Look it, think it, be it…

Remember when the book, The Secret, came out? Its tenet to achieving authentic power underscores religious and nonreligious creeds everywhere: Tap the power within you by learning how to use The Secret, to have, be, or do anything you want. Source

6. Hail, hail, the gang’s all here! (1917 Irving Kaufman & Columbia Quartet)

Community / Gang — a large family or group that someone belongs to Source

There’s a resurgence in seeking the power of Identity that one feels in belonging to a family/clan/group/gang/band/throng/mob/company/assembly/troupe/sorority. Is it possible that this resurgence is because we’ve discovered that our internet community isn’t satisfying our needs?

Wearing a group’s brand furthers the cause. Popular television series, Yellowstone, features ranch hands baring a “Y” seared into their flesh over their hearts. The power in group branding filters down to our wallets with customer card incentives—gas and grocery points, warehouse discounts, even coffee purchases when you buy ten lattes, with the next one being free!

Tanzy Janvier
(Photo used with permission)

Individual and group identity is fused with power. Identifying with one’s roots and century old traditions can fortify that power. Facial tattoos are a popular identity/power statement. New Zealand prime-time television anchor, Oriini Kaipara, proudly displays her ancestors’ facial tattoo, as does Dené beauty, Tanzy Janvier, who says, “I wear it to honour that I am part of strong lineage of Denesuline matriarchs who I humbly acknowledge to be much greater than me”.

Take a moment to watch these young indigenous Japanese resurrecting their Ainu culture in this celebration dance.

Group identity is current and running strong. During this Covid-19 pandemic, the group power of anti-maskers and anti-vaccinators is dividing families and churches, governments, schools, and grocery shoppers.

Humans in groups have been a power to contend with since the beginning of time. The stronger the community, the stronger the identity, and therefore, the stronger the power both globally and locally for the community and its individual members.

7. Secrets and Mysteries

People gravitate to enigmas. They have drawing power because they’re open to [our] interpretation, imagination, and awe, unlike our mostly familiar and predictable world. Source

Keeping secrets and being mysterious are sources of power, especially in a world where all is revealed all of the time, as, for example, in reality TV, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts. When individuals are mysterious, our species seeks to unravel the power of the concealed, often in an attempt to discredit the power, or perhaps to feel powerful because that which was hidden is now revealed. Journalists, scientists, politicians, advertising gurus, religious delegation, and mystery writers are leaders in the concealment and unveiling trades

The power of betrayal, lies, and misdirection are the stuff that make for powerful and beloved fictional charactersFrench detective Jacques Clouseau as the Pink Panther, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, Ian Fleming’s James Bond, and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter.

8. The Net

What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do. — Aristotle

Cyberspace, a venue for the expression of personal and corporate power, is hard to ignore, with 4.66 billion internet users worldwide expressing their power. Voicing an opinion with a thumb icon or sharing selfies and adventures filled with smiles galore endorses one’s power of choice. Corporate online advertising exercises its power by bombarding, tracking, and soliciting those choices.

Cancel Culture’s shaming power via social media—Disney’s Dumbo and The Aristocrats, Dr. Seuss, Scarlett Johansson, Oxford history professor Selina Todd, and Nobel Prize winning scientist and Royal Society fellow Tim Hunt, to name only a very few—has impacted change, some of which is welcomed, some of which is ignored, such as when it attempts to punish us for purchasing Uncle Ben’s par-boiled rice or Mrs. Butterworth’s pancake syrup.

If everyone from journalists to entertainers to cartoon characters can be jettisoned simply because one group or another is offended, any sense of fairness will indeed be gone with the wind. Source

About exercising power via internet, we do hold the power to not invest. What’s interesting is to learn that corporate power holders don’t have either the balls or pussy power to fully investigate before condemning victims of cancel culture.

One may think power, feel power, and look powerful, but one’s power can be erased in less than a second!

Force always attracts men of low morality. — Albert Einstein

Mosaic of Theodora in Basilica of San Vitale 547 AD Italy

9. Emotions

Holding someone hostage emotionally is a common source of power, more common than we want to believe. The powers of jealousy and obsessive attraction are well known in relationships today.

Love is a common power player. We all know a person or two who extends loving characteristics to others in order to feel loved, to nurture their own identity, and to therefore feel empowered.

Sadly, human trafficking has zoned in on power plays. In Canada, one in four victims of human trafficking, the majority of which are women and children, are trafficked by people that are known to the victims, playing on their emotions, building trust, providing emotional support and intimacy, and even by caring and offering protection.

Obligation is another emotion that holds much power. Feeling obliged can trap us into situations we might otherwise avoid, both legal and personal. One can feel powerless when fulfilling an obligation. Equally, those who create obligations can exercise much power, such as the taxman (Beatles TAXMAN Remastered 2009).

10. Having / Ownership

The full and complete right of dominion over property… the power to enjoy and dispose of things absolutely Source

The above definition says it all! What one has or owns is important to some. Take, for example, the power of freedom and pride that comes with owning a super yacht. Perhaps driving a specialty automobile leaves us feeling like we’re a powerful contributor to saving Mother Earth. The number of homes owned in exotic locations make a former colleague feel like she’s ‘made it’. Or, perhaps our power is felt in having nine children and fostering even more.

What we have/own can support/be the power of identity, the power of illusion, the power of emotion, the power of choice, and the power of control.

POWERLESS

Just as we spend a lifetime seeking power, we also spend a lifetime trying to avoid being powerless. To dodge being powerless, we empower ourselves by investing in trends, voting in elections, engaging in criminal activity, even in changing our human body composition and structure. The state of being powerless seems to be a current issue that is pushing forward a myriad of social actions, all in an effort to replace impotency.

WHEN POWERLESS

Living by the ocean and hearing it crash on the shoreline, or wondering when the power lines will deliver much needed energy after a brutal storm, or weathering the unexpected loss of a loved one. . . all are harsh reminders that as much as we might feel powerful and feel in control, we aren’t always. Yet, during powerlessness, one can discover the core of authentic power.

1900 STORM — Bronze sculpture by David W. Moore in honour of the 1900 Galveston Hurricane which killed 6,000-8,000 people

AT ITS CORE

Examining ‘power’ both formally and informally, and having spent time and even lived with people considered by all accounts to be powerful, has all been in an effort  to understand what’s at the core of our species’ lifelong struggle to experience being powerful.

I’ve tested my own feelings of power in the saddle of a high-octane motorcycle, while riding choppy waters on skis behind a feisty motorboat, when driving my Cutlass 442 at top speeds, when tackling a black run’s icy moguls in the Rocky Mountains, when feeling the thrill of flying in the super-sonic Concorde, or when receiving an audience’s standing ovation. I’ve been the mamma bear whose cubs knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was their powerful protector. And, I’ve known the powerful feeling of success after advocating and fighting for others.

My personal power has also been repeatedly challenged. A machine gun shoved into my sternum, being told I may only have one year to live, seeing my toddler struggling to breathe in an oxygen tent… all awakened me to the reality that any power I seek or feel or have can disappear in a flash.

STRIPPED NAKED

Stripping away the many faces and layers of power and its expression has brought me to recognise that for most species, the core of authentic power is survival! We do whatever we think it will take to survive, to rise above others in the food chain, to be the last one standing.

Cambridge Dictionary describes survival as continuing to exist, or wanting to continue to exist. If one accepts this definition, survival would therefore also include the power of tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanoes, powers that threaten the survival of all breeding species. For the sake of continuing this discussion, ‘survival’ refers to species.

GAME ON!

Our power lies in what we do and believe, in that which will help us to survive in the best way possible. What we believe is founded in what we value.

Knowing what we value is fundamental to survival, and therefore also to our experiencing power in any of its many reflections. Some of us learn what is important and worth striving for via difficult circumstances. Others decide early on to achieve what they value. Most of us experience a bit of both—striving to attain what we value, and undergoing a course correction along the way.

VALUES MOTIVATE

Beliefs are a choice. We have the power to choose our beliefs. Our beliefs become our reality. Source

If we value family, we instigate powerful actions to make that particular value come to fruition. If we value education or knowledge, we work our way up the academic ladder. If we value money, we make decisions to increase our profit margin. If authority or being in control is what we value, we choose situations and careers wherein we are a dominant force. If we value others or the planet, we work to the betterment of communities and sustainability.

Once we’re clear on the values we hold dear, we create a belief system to validate our choices and actions. Belief systems move mountains, and beliefs directly govern our biological response or behavior. Here’s something one doesn’t hear every day—

Each and every tiny cell in our body is perfectly aware of our thoughts, feelings and our beliefs. Source

QUEEN ZENOBIA’S LAST LOOK UPON PALMYRA
Oil on Canvas

― Herbert Gustave Schmalz

Why do people buy lottery tickets, when the odds of winning are one in tens of millions? Source

POWER ↔ VALUE ↔ SELF-WORTH

What we value leads to the power we seek. What we value and the power we have/seek impacts our self-worth. Therein lies the rub!

When one’s self-worth is completely dependent on what is valued and the power it exudes, one can find oneself lost. We hear of and may know of great achievers whose survival function is solely determined by their overreach of power.

Your beliefs become your thoughts
Your thoughts become your words
Your words become your actions
Your actions become your habit
Your habits become your values
Your values become your destiny. 
― Gandhi

The emotional and intellectual response to power is powerful itself, especially one’s own sense of power. When our power is challenged, we fight or take flight!

The powerful executive who’s been let-go or fired, hides out with Jack Daniel’s. The powerful public leader retires, and months later, is found dead. The powerful church parishioner who has tithed diligently and served faithfully, gets cancer and is left to suffer alone. Examples are many of those whose self-worth was cocooned in achievement, and who were left empty when achievement fell away.

POWER DISTILLERY

Disappointment in seeing our values fail to give us the sense of power that we strive for can be a truth-teller, a distiller, a sieve to push our values through. Distilling values and beliefs makes for a fluid power, for power as a sustainable resource.

A dynamic prod for me to reassess my own values and therefore my power was to experience poverty and visit with the destitute in nations under despots. In so doing, I was able to eliminate, heighten, or establish new values to live by. To move forward in our survival, distilling our beliefs and values is time worthy.

Anyone who is practicing understanding and compassion can exemplify true power. — Thich Nhat Hanh

HAVING THE LAST WORD

There are a few people in my life who exercise their power by insisting on having the last word in every conversation. So, I thought I’d take a turn . . .

If power is your thing, know what you value and believe, and then enjoy surviving! Keep in mind that all species on this planet are out to survive as well. Your power to survive will be impacted in one way or another by the expressed power of others, and by the belief in that power.

With the understanding that every species develops powers to survive, this can and hopefully will lead us to be more tolerant, more forgiving, kinder to all survival seekers, to all that express survival power. May it also teach us when to be the warrior that accomplishes the most for the survival and greater good of all!

POWER (Little Mix feat. Stormzy)


How one seeks power, finds power, or nurtures power is a topic well discussed indeed. When you have a moment, ask Google the question, ‘What is power?’ and be ready for an instant blow-up of endless options, definitions, movies, images, etc. Following are a few links to consider:

Cancel Culture

Power

Secrets

Traditional Tattoos


ROSE in a BROKEN BOTTLE – Adult novel based on a true story
NINE GIFTS- with Study Guide
THE CURSE – with Study Guide
RUSH of the RAVEN’S WINGS – Youth short story with Study Guide
NO PASSPORT FOR ÉTIENNE – Short story inspired by true events
THEFT OF BABY ILY – Short story inspired by true events
MYSTERY of the SINGING GHOST – with Study Guide
MYSTERY of the TRACTOR GHOST – with Study Guide
MYSTERY of the THREE SISTERS – with Study Guide
MYSTERY of the LOST CELL PHONE – with Study Guide
TEDDY MEETS KIBOKO – Children’s novel with Study Guide
KIDNAPPED SANTA – Children’s novel with Study Guide
Arrow & the Song
May the Road Rise to Meet You
Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen
Looking Back
Can’t help Lovin’ That Man
Young As The Spring
Danny Boy | Too-Ra-Loo | How Ireland Got Its Name
Prayer
Farewell
I JUST WANNA BE A STAR!

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