Monday, January 26, 2009

The World Is Not All About Youth

"In dog years, I'm dead."
I am having a little difficulty with my place in this world these past few days. It’s an inner issue about purpose and value. It may be a classic and predictable concern for retirees, but this time it’s mine. It’s not merely an intellectual question. It’s emotional. It grabs one in the gut. Christine feels it too - for herself. The issue is intensified by the downturn in respect from younger people towards those with age.

When I was a young person I respected my elders. That was attributable to my upbringing as well as my own intuitive conclusion that insight and experience lived in older people and warranted deference. Vintage people with creativity and knowledge still exist today but they can be overlooked. Everyone loses when this happens.

I observe that in this internet era, youthful, innovative and technologically savvy geniuses are celebrated. Yet there are others beside the young intellects and artists who are making contributions. To encourage myself today I am reciting the stories of a few people who have done some pretty remarkable things in their senior years or in spite of their senior years. I had just finished college when Konrad Adenauer became Chancellor of West Germany at the age of 73 and left at age 83. In February 2007 Olive Riley at age 107 became the world’s oldest blogger with The Life of Riley, making her final post on 26 June 2008 from a nursing home in Woy Woy, New South Wales and dying at the age of 108. At the age of 96, Harry Bernstein published his first book in 2007, entitled The Invisible Wall, dealing with his abusive, alcoholic father. In 2008 he published his second book, The Dream, which centers on his family’s move to the United States when he was twelve. Mae Laborde, 98, standing 4 feet 10 inches with snow-white hair, rosy-red cheeks and a peaches-and-cream smile is only five years into her acting career and she has become TV’s ubiquitous grandma. When asked for secrets to living a long life, she advises to never retire. Peter Oakley, born August 20 1927 named himself geriatric 1927 on his YouTube videos which are called ‘Telling it All.’ He began the videos in 2006 and within two years he has over 60,000 subscribers to his stories and anecdotes. You must take a peek at his initial attempt. That first one has had 2,802,471 hits. They became increasingly better and funnier.

Harland David Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders perfected a way of cooking chicken that made his restaurant highly popular. With $105.00 from his first Social Security check at age 65, Sanders funded visits to potential franchisees and thus emerged the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants empire. He died at age 90 and was still a spokesperson for the product of The Colonel's secret flavor recipe of 11 herbs and spices that creates the famous "finger lickin' good" chicken.

So what have I learned? Not sure! But I believe I must work against my predisposition, impatience. I won’t market chicken or jump into politics but the years ahead can be constructive, creative and of value and achievement. What I require is – vision. That’s another blog.

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