In North America, the general consensus is that being younger is synonymous with being better. We are conditioned to believe that the young have the advantage of being smarter, stronger, more attractive, and all around more capable and valuable than those who are elderly.
I bought into this theory when I was younger. I felt that I was smarter and sharper than my elders. In some ways, I was. I was quick to learn academically. I could read by the time I was three, absorbing the ability by listening to my older siblings doing their homework at the kitchen table. I memorized letters and numbers, poetry and prayers. I stayed at the top of my class, or close to it, throughout my school years. Once I became a mother, I quickly learned that I could multi-task, which I felt was a good sign of higher intellect and a great survival skill. Throughout my working years, I was capable of easily learning whatever was required to do my job competently. I did learn a lot of my knowledge from my elders, but I felt that my younger, quicker mind helped me to utilize that knowledge more efficiently.
Physically, I used to be stronger than I am now. I had the dexterity to perform tasks that I now struggle with (since when did it become such a struggle to do up the zippers on my winter boots?). I possessed the physical strength to shop for groceries, while carrying an infant, dragging a toddler and herding a pre-schooler. I had my own chainsaw and the ability to operate it. (We had a wood stove up north – the ability petered out when we moved back south. I once almost took out our neighbour with an electric knife. Live and learn – one should not cut a frozen ice cream cake with an electric knife. 😔). Even a year ago, my job included physical aspects such as hauling around heavy cartons of files, moving around product for inventory, and helping to load and unload trucks on the loading dock. Tasks that I would definitely struggle with now.
There is something to be said for youthful physical attraction. My babies were adorable and are still an attractive lot. My grandchildren are gorgeous. I was no slouch in my younger days. I had great legs. Total strangers would comment on my legs – in bizarre situations – it was kind of wierd. The thing is, younger people can tend to be dramatic, demanding, noisy, messy and embody any number of traits that are less than attractive. If it wasn’t for the bright smiles, thick hair and nice legs, a lot of them would be lonely.
As far as being overall capable and valuable – I think as a society, we are misguided. I have not been ‘elderly’ for very long. I am sixty-five and have been retired for a few months. These months, I have been slower and less productive than I have ever been. My priorities have changed – so much for the better and (not to brag.. but) I find that I am becoming wiser than ever. I understand things that I have learned and ‘known’ over the course of my lifetime. Even the things that I understood – I understand on a deeper level.
Since growing older, or possibly growing up, I have realized that…
1) Peace of mind is the most important thing in life. There is absolutely nothing that is worth sacrificing one’s peace of mind for. It is when things are at their worst, that we need our peace of mind the most. We are at our best to deal with life (especially the rocky periods) when we have peace of mind… 2) Infinity can only be found within. We can stare at the skies, we can gaze at the mountains and the oceans and the forests, we can look out over acres of prairie grasses and wildflowers, but we cannot comprehend the vast infiniteness of the universe and beyond until we look within ourselves and experience our subconscious minds and souls. 3) Aging is a gift. As we go through life – we live, we learn, we experience joy and grief, pain and pleasure. As seniors, we continue our physical lives, but we have such a precious opportunity to dig deeper. One of my blogging friends, likes to remind us of Wayne Dyer’s famous quote “You are an infinite spiritual being having a temporary human experience.” I always knew I was body, mind and soul. I think I always knew that of the three, the soul was the foundation of my existence. I was just too busy dealing physically and mentally, to live from my spiritual place. Now I am there and I would never go back, I could never go back, to that place where I stumbled and struggled to live my life as an intelligent physical being.