Learning from Older People

I am thinking about all the things older people told me over the
years—don’t worry, relax, smell the roses, live life in the moment,
learn from your mistakes, and, above all, love other people and
yourself. Much of my life hasn’t been spent practicing these gems from
my predecessors. It’s been about struggling to do it right, doing it my
way, resisting anything I didn’t like, and (in one way or another)
controlling myself and other people.

Love,
when it appeared, was like a fleeting miracle that I enshrined in
silver boxes and stored in the temple of what might have been. I don’t
regret much. I am happy and have, I think, lived a good life. I
anticipate the future being the best, especially since I now know that
most of the sage advice I was given is true.

So why don’t
people learn from the older generation? Why does it seem so hard to
convey and communicate to younger people what my life experience has
taught me?  Why does it take 40 or 50 or 60 years to realize what we
knew all along in our hearts—that our elders were right? Why do we
refuse to believe, let alone put into practice, such simple
life-affirming notions?

The answer is, I think, that we live
in a culture intoxicated with the notion that we are in charge of
reality. We believe life happens to us, and that we must learn to
control and cope at all costs or we will cease to exist. The
alternative is to surrender and accept that we have little or no
control over anything. The only thing we do have control over is how we
relate to it all and who we are in the moment.

I have few
regrets, but I do wonder what my life might have been like if I had
embraced the wisdom of my parents and grandparents and generations
past. The only thing I am sure of is that most of my life would have
been about serving others and a lot less about “me”.

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