By Don Arnoudse
daughter, Sara, is about to turn 21. Her impending birthday has
triggered my own memories of that familiar refrain of youth…”I can’t
wait until I’m old enough to….go to school, to learn to drive, to vote,
to get a credit card, to stay out past midnight, to travel on my own,
to get my first apartment, to get my first real job, to go to night
clubs and bars, and so on and so on.”
It got me to wondering.
What are the advantages of age now that I’m staring 60 in the face?
Yesterday, I was listening to Julio Olalla, master teacher and founder
of the Newfield Network. He began his comments on some of the crises we
face in the world by saying, “At my age, I no longer choose to censor
myself”. I thought, “Wow! That’s an advantage of age. Telling the truth
as I see it without concern for others’ reactions.”
I was also
inspired by a conversation later that day with Cliff, age 73. He
positively beamed as he said, “A real advantage of age is the breadth
of experiences, knowledge and relationships that I have accumulated in
my lifetime and the ability to make connections between all of them in
service of others.” I agreed that the accumulated wisdom of a lifetime
is a real advantage—a perspective honed through years filled with
triumphs and setbacks, trials and errors. Experiences that, at the end
of the day, help us learn what really truly matters.
along the way we stop anticipating the rewards of age and focus on
clinging to youth. But what if we take a deeper look at growing
older…what advantages might we see? How can we fully embrace and
express them in our everyday living?
At 59, I find myself worrying much less about trying to prove myself. I am less addicted to others’ assessments of me.
I cherish the new freedom I have when I’m no longer striving to ‘climb the ladder’.
I am less seduced by the siren song of our consumer society to accumulate more stuff.
am grateful for the people in my life. I value my relationships in a
whole different way: I see people as fellow travelers on life’s
journey, instead of as a network of ‘contacts’ to help me get ahead.
cherish the provocative conversations I engage in now that I’m not as
concerned about being right or pushing my point of view. It’s more
interesting exploring and learning from the unique perspectives of
others who come from different places than me.
I enjoy conversation without an agenda.
I thrill at the camaraderie with other citizens committed to making a difference on shared concerns.
I find it fascinating that ‘mistakes’ tend to generate the most interesting moments in life.
I’m even learning to love the wrinkles that are now beginning to map my face. I’ve earned every one of them.
what about you? Please share what you experience as the advantages of
age by submitting a comment to this blog. Let’s dialogue about the
unique (and often overlooked) possibilities of the second half of our
Now repeat along with me. I can’t wait until I’m old enough to…