Sunday, July 14

When old dogs learn new tricks

We’ve become accustomed to the ‘kind of amusing but not really funny’ jokes about being old: my back goes out more than I do… I took up jogging so I could hear heavy breathing again… I’m so old I remember when emojis were called hieroglyphics.  Bada boom.

Thankfully, notions of aging as defined by some stereotype of a crabby old guy or cantankerous grandma smelling slightly rancid and hamming it up on an awful sitcom, are becoming fewer and farther in between.  I remind you that President Biden will end his first term as an octogenarian.

When older men and women complain about no longer “being in the game,” the truth is, they’ve stopped playing.  They turn into curmudgeons when they dwell on their perceived loss of influence and affluence.  They settle for a retirement that’s about deciding on Ginger tea or the decaffeinated Chamomile when the transcendently important decision is not to die before you die. 

In today’s world there is new bromide to be stitched to the crocheted wall hangings: How old I am is not as important as how I am old.

How one looks at aging makes an enormous difference.  Some will see it as the beginning of the end.  Others will view it as the end of the beginning and write many compelling chapters to their autobiographies.

I’m in that number.

I view my senior’s status as an opportunity to speak out more freely when my inner voice is not fully in sync with the ‘acceptable’ side of an issue.

I can accept the impasses that resisted all my past efforts to bridge them.  My suggestion: if the loggerhead with your wife, husband, son, daughter or friend can’t be resolved, have the Reinhold Niebuhr serenity prayer tattooed on the palms of your hands as a perpetual crib sheet.

I have given up the corrosive notion that I am responsible for someone else’s life, realizing at long last that people will live their lives as they choose to, not as I have decided is ‘better for them.’ 

I’m no longer overly concerned with position, power, and profits, having realized that self-worth is not a Balance Sheet entry.  Integrity is the only thing we own that nobody can take away.

I’ve learned that forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.

I’ve become open to the possibility of the existence of a force beyond the physical world, an inner light that helps us navigate past the twists and turns.

I have learned – the single-most compelling lesson – that the past is over and done and the future is conjecture.  Only the present moment is ours, and it is fleeting. It behooves us to make the most of it.

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