Monday, February 26, 2007

It’s OK To Be “At The End Of An Era”

How many times have you felt left out, passed by, no longer “with it”, “at an end of an era”? Were you a Bobby Soxer, crazy for Elvis or Frankie or even the Beetles, proud of your hopped-up Ford, your executive abilities or sex appeal?

We read newspapers, watch TV, observe the crowds around us; then when we look in the mirror, our dreams fade away like old photos. One era after another slips by; childhood, the exciting teen years, college and jobs, marriages, retirement.

As these eras pass with each year and decade, we can often feel a sense of diminishment, of losing “it”; we mourn the loss of the heady rush of being part of the fads and ferment of that moment, the “now” of life. However, as we age, we choose more mature set of values to live by; and with this maturity, we gain a sense of knowing who we really are, what fundamentally makes us feel fulfilled, content and happy.

Unfortunately, our consumption-driven society and the increasingly successful efforts of advertising and marketing professionals insist that “enough” of anything is not enough. We are exhorted to buy the newest, to be “with it” by becoming dissatisfied with last year’s model, whether it’s a car or movie star. Our worn but comfortable pair of shoes or special wool sweater lose all their appeal. Whatever is at this moment “up to date”, in products, tastes in music, or philosophies of life, forces yet another ending of an era and the beginning of a new one.

This may happen for many people, but not necessarily for you. Along with aging and maturity, you have also acquired wisdom. Along with this wisdom comes a true sense of who you have learned to be. You are your own person, not just another consumer of somebody else’s ideas and products. You feel comfortable in your own skin and in your own life. This is the life you have created for yourself; this is the life which will keep you comfortable and serene for years, maybe decades, to come.

Once you know who you really are, why you’re here, and where you’re going, it’s time to relax and keep marching along through your string of days to the beat of your own drum, and not someone else’s. Let the ever-changing “eras” pass you by, just as the roiling clouds move across the sky. You know from long experience that the weather is always changing, but the string of days will continue. You are forever at one “end of an era” or another, but your personal
eras of memories and your hopes for the future will endure.

So, sit back and watch the passing show, even learn from and enjoy younger folks and their innovative ideas and passions. But don’t feel you have to keep up with the crowd. Live each day in your own way, at your own pace. Relax, you’ve earned it. Let the rest of the world go by, for better or for worse; era, after era, after era. It’s quite a show, isn’t it?

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Whom Do You Trust Under 60?

When we were younger, our culture cry was “Don’t trust anyone over 30”. As always, youth and aging cultures clash on everything from tastes in music, to clothing, to morals. Because of this knee-jerk mutual-misunderstanding and mistrust, groups isolate themselves from one another, to both sides’ great loss.

This mutual alienation must not repeat itself now, for we are older, and as we age, we grow wiser. Most of the moral laxity and bad taste we see in our children and grandchildren, if we look carefully , may closely resemble our own juvenile actions and attitudes way back then.

I am not suggesting that we learn to love their music or wear their grungy clothing, but we do need to understand their “art of aging” process just as we need to understand and benefit from our own. We all, the young and the old, have to learn a little bit better “how to grow up”. We all need to learn new lessons of wisdom and new ways to make our inevitable passage of time a little more comfortable, a little less dangerous, more enjoyable and, especially, even more joyful.

By easing back on our prejudices and creating a more open awareness and acceptance of those different from us, we open a new freedom for ourselves as we age. Just because we aren’t as young and energetic and adventurous as we once were, we can still “think young”. Times are a-changing and life isn’t as it used to be, for young and old alike. Maybe if we get to know more youthful people, no matter what their age, we will begin to have more youthful, life-affirming ideas as well.

Come on, gang, let’s get with it. There’s lots of life in us old folks yet. Please view and listen to the attached little video. Turn up the sound and enjoy, bring a smile to your face. Feel what it is to be young at heart again.