Can we harness the wisdom of age?

October 10, 2015

Boomer friends, do you feel old?

I didn’t think so.

It’s always a surprise when I have to give my age.  Am I really that old? I think.

marcel-older-woman1Think back to the 1950s, when women looked old by the time they reached 50. Did these women feel as old as they looked? Or was there a 21-year-old inside just screaming to get out?

I don’t know. Maybe they felt like older women.

But maybe, just maybe, they didn’t.

Now that I’m an older woman  I don’t feel old. Nor do I have any idea how I got here. One day I was 21 and the next? Getting ready to file for Social Security.  It’s like driving in a car and getting to your destination with no memory of how you got there.

Hubby and I were talking about this just the other night.  I was saying, as I often do, that I’d like to go back and re-live my life exactly as it was. The difference is that I would savor every day and ever experience even more.

“That’s the thing about being this age,” he said. “We know the value of being in the moment because we know how quickly those moments pass.”

Yes. The wisdom of age.

adults now

                   I don’t really feel like this. Not most of the time, anyway.

Sometimes I look at myself through the eyes of the younger people in my life and I have to laugh. When I was younger, I never once thought about what life would be like in my 60s, about what I would be like. I couldn’t fathom it.

But now that I’m here, I’m perfectly ok with it. In fact, I embrace the wisdom that’s come with the grey hairs. You know, the ones I cover up every four weeks.

The vantage point age provides should never be discounted, as the perspective it gives can be valuable. It’s a shame we don’t have a way to harness the wisdom of age for the benefit of those coming up behind us. It’s hard to do that in a society that doesn’t value age like “primitive” cultures used to. Younger people don’t look up to adults as crones, wise medicine men, keepers of wisdom.

And, the truth is, I didn’t, either, when I was young.

Well, kids, here’s the thing: it may not seem like it now, but you’ll be old before you know it. So live each moment along the way. Embrace every experience.

And if you have the chance to ask a grey-beard about life, do it.

So, old people: you’ve got the floor. How are you harnessing the wisdom of age for those coming behind us?



8 comments on “Can we harness the wisdom of age?
  1. ryder ziebarth says:

    I read this column every morning, Carol, and although I don’t always comment, today I feel compelled.
    I just spent four days with my 24 -year old daughter, recently graduated from college, newly working with both a part -time job and a freelance career. We had afternoons together to roam Boston and talked, ate, shopped, visited museums, arboretums, and gardens, feed the homeless, and cooked dinners together. We tried on silly hats and coats at department stores and took selfies, she taught me harmonies to her new songs. We went to the movies, and laughed until we thought we would wet our pants. I never had that kind of relationship with my mother, whom I loved dearly.
    But times have changed.Parents have become “younger” and I truly believe most kids have better relationships, closer than you and I did with ours, no matter how much we loved them. I think that simply, in the evolution of time, we have naturally fostered trust and a deeper respect with the younger generation.
    And I will tell you this, my mother wouldn’t have been caught dead in skinny jeans and cowboy boots at 60. I honestly believe our new packaging helps us stay “young” enough to be trusted by the younger generations and therefore still viable to be listened to.
    Does that make sense?

  2. Kim says:

    I so feel like this!!! I turned 50 in May and don’t feel old. I thought that most people, by my age, would have a lot more wisdom and common sense, but I’m surprised how many still act like they are in a clique in HS. Ageism is starting to creep in and I will fight it tooth and nail to the end. Anyway, I love your analogy of driving and not remembering how you got there. That is a perfect description.

  3. The other night I had dinner with a newly married 20 something I’d just met. In the course of conversation, she told me her intention to confront her new mother-in-law and the story behind it. I gave her a possible explanation and suggested a different course of action and could see the ah-ha moment in her eyes. It felt good to think I may have averted a tear in a new relationship that would have been hard to repair. Brenda

  4. I am always shocked when I remember how old I am! In my head, I’m still around 30. I do try to impart my wisdom to my children and their friends but for some reason they are not particularly interested in hearing it! 🙂

  5. Oh yes, I have those moments when I wonder how I got to where I am, especially now that I”m watching my daughter navigate college and a boyfriend and choosing a career path. But then again, I wonder this at work, too – when I look around at the 13 year olds I teach and wonder, “What am I DOING here?” 🙂

  6. olga says:

    I really like this post, even in my thirties my friends and I often have this conversation and ask ourselves when we became adults. I don’t feel much older inside. I’m Mexican and I was raised to have a great respect for my elders. My grandpa used to tell stories of his youth that always left me fascinated and enthralled, I still think he was a cowboy to this day! There’s not a visit home that I don’t sit with my mom at the coffee table and listen to one of her stories that underneath has a life lesson. I believe that we should always give our full attention to those we interact with because no matter the age there always pearls of wisdom to be found.

  7. Vi Dotter says:

    I think its the awareness that there shouldn’t be boundaries – like age classes. We can respect and have meaningful interactions with those that are younger and they can also be themselves among the older group. This is of course only for the lucky of us who are aware and eager to participate in the lives of our children and not just have them fade from ours. It is work and it takes effort, so I know of many people who refrain and rather just deal with their children on those brief prerequisite times. But they are missing out dearly. Keeps us “younger” and keeps them connected which is such a good thing. Because like you said older you get there is wisdom in our perspectives.

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