Monday, February 4, 2013

The Secret of Aging

"It's one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Unless we die first, we are going to age. The choice then is death or aging. We don't really have a choice. We acquire what happens first. My grandmother always said, "Sure Pam, old age is not for the weak or faint hearted." She was right on the mark with those words.

One thing about getting older is the contempt youth has for the aged. It is almost as if the aging person lost their mind. How perplexing in a cultured society, to hold old age with such disdain. We practically hide our elderly away. The older people get, the less questions they are asked and the less value we place on their opinions or thoughts. They become the recipient of the jokes and snide remarks.

How much lost wisdom and untapped information we disregard. Young workers are valued and rightly should they be. They are privy to the most up to date knowledge available. Their opinions are appreciated and they are asked to be the presenters of information on many occasions. On the opposite end we have the aging worker who is bypassed for the promotion simply because he is older. That gray hair and steadier walk give rise to the notion that he is a slacker, slower, not as quick witted and less of a thinker.

It's probable he has already thought some things out long ago and arrived at the conclusions his younger colleagues haven't yet thought about. He is composed because he knows that 'Haste Makes Waste' as the saying goes. The older worker is actually more patient because he knows what it is like to have a bad day or have a bad pain in his leg. He is more tolerant because he has needed others to wait for him to find what he misplaced. He is not as aggressive because he knows in the end that team work is more important than sole honors for a moment of glory. He is more forgiving because throughout his longer life there were times he was in a position to need forgiveness. He has been there done that and is now passing it forward. The older worker is less proud because he is more aware of the numerous people who have out done his best efforts. He is also less arrogant because he is now more aware of the feelings of those he has bested.

The younger worker might have tunnel vision whereas the older worker has the whole picture. It doesn't make us better or worse. It simply tells us we should value all people. If we disregard our older population as less of a contributor to society, we sell society and ourselves short. We are an interwoven quilt that is worn on the inside and stronger on the outside. The quilt would not be useful without the inner and outer pieces. The older generation holds us together while the younger generation moves us outward. We need both.

If we had more regard and respect for the older generation we might have less need for nursing homes. As younger people we might learn the value of kindness, tolerance, patience, understanding, respect empathy and forgiveness long before we reach old age.

"Success is not measured by what a person accomplishes, but by the opposition they have encountered, and the courage with which they have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds." Orison Sweet Marden

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