Sunday, May 19th, 2013
OLD AGE IS NOT GENERIC
I have to be reminded that every person no matter how old is unique, specific
and still very much alive—-wanting, loving, hating, doing, thinking. Not someone who has already lived a life and is now coasting.
True for other groups of people that we stereotype but it is worse in our culture for old people. (I said “old” not older because we so soft pedal our biases)
And I was reminded of how bad I am about this when I sat next to two older guys having breakfast at a motel where I was staying. I couldn’t help but hear their conversation. And they were cartoon geezers. Bald, bent, v neck cardigans, flesh colored shoes.
Then their beauty shone through.
One said to the other,
“You’re a sight for sore eyes. How are you spending your time?”
The other replied, “I go to the gym 4 days a week, not to get buff, but to keep strength for my wife if anything happens to her.”
“What about your project?”
“Well I’ve finished the introduction and am talking to more people about it.
So many agree that small businesses are the answer to America’s problems. I’m still passionate about it. I’m done with my research. Did you know there are 27 million small businesses? Two agents think the topic is right.”
They debated the definition of small business for a while. I wanted to join in.
Then the focus shifted to the other man.
“I’ve been having the time of my life.”
Well, I thought I would quit the cello after I left the symphony but I play 4-5 hours a day and can’t get enough of it. It’s my meditation and my comfort.
Drives my wife a little nuts.”
Lots of good natured laughter followed that.
I was so nourished by their conversation.
And so ashamed at how I mentally dismissed them as I sat down.
There is a good invisibility about getting older. Less concern with what others think. More, “What the hell.” Less need to prove anything.
And there is bad invisibility if we don’t take the time to look deeper and learn deeper from the richness and specific lives of our elders.
The beauty I saw was how they emerged from caricature to fully defined people. Would have been my loss if I hadn’t eaves dropped.
A great reminder.
Are you listening kids?