Pearls of Wisdom.

January 14, 2023

Pearls of Wisdom.

May 29, 2023

As I was soaking up the last minutes on MEA’s Baja campus just before writing The Pause (the poem I shared last month on Wisdom Well) waiting on my shuttle for the airport to arrive, I was taking in the beauty of my surroundings-soaking it all up.

Looking around and just breathing, I was trying to imprint the feeling I had inside from a week of so much camaraderie, connection to myself and lightness in my being. As I was basking in a moment of radical gratitude, my eye caught the striking bright pink bougainvillea tucked all around the place, along passageways and entrances -and, it caught me in my tracks!


Every year for Christmas, for as long as I can remember, I have bought myself a Christmas gift - along with the many other gifts I lovingly (and, let’s be real—sometimes begrudgingly!) picked out for those in my life to show gratitude, appreciation and love.

This year, my gift to myself is carefully chosen gray-toned Tahitian pearls that I had strung with hot pink silk knots that happen to be the exact color of the bougainvillea!

Although not intended, I had a “Baja-aha” moment that seems to magically uplift the meaning for me with this gift I am giving to myself for Christmas this year. Although I didn’t recognize it at the time, my necklace is, of course, a perfect metaphor for my time at MEA!

This pearl necklace, my “elder wisdom pearls” (as I will forever think of them now) originated from an irritant (read: adversity) that a mollusk needed to protect itself from. This is such a powerful metaphor for the rough but progressive wisdom I’ve earned over the years - wisdom that has been and continues to be acquired along my path. Along with the gray (not black or white but the messy gray) pearls, the hot pink knots will forever remind me of the bougainvilleas dotting the landscape in my happy place - reminding me of all the “in between” spaces, the “pauses” and honoring the “liminal spaces” we all walk thru in life. The places, which, no matter how hard, if embraced, are where all the transformational magic happens!

So, when I wear this necklace, I hope to remember the beauty, joy and the enthusiasm of who I showed up with during those weeks in Baja (both times!). I hope to remember the possibilities in all those transitional places - especially the ones I have not chosen. I hope to pause and remember the immense gratitude for Chip Conley and every single person (including the facilitators, the staff, my compadres!) that creates the container (the crucible) that makes being there remind me of who I am.

I am complete.

Elizabeth Young is a two-time modern elder from Hanover, NH. Journaling, writing and poetry are a few of the ways she drops into that sacred place of essence. She wrote this poem on her last day in Baja this past Sunday, as members of her cohort were dispersing. There was a notable stillness on campus and an opportunity to pause and lean into that liminal space.

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