Op-Ed by PETER MAURER
With each passing year – like you – I am getting older, and as I’ve grown into each phase of life, I have noticed that there are far more things to enjoy than to complain about.
Yes, I don’t heal as fast as I used to, my skin is some foreign layer that has a mind of its own, and even though I still stay in very good shape, the body still changes in ways that I wish it wouldn’t. And knowing that there are far more ticks of the clock behind me than in front does make me ponder the future.
Yet, I have grandchildren, and their inclusion in my life fulfills me in ways I could never have anticipated. I am more patient and compassionate, not necessarily like Mother Theresa, but far more than I was as a younger man.
Having prepared for retirement, I do not worry about money like I used to. Having lived through six decades of history allows me to see things from a perspective that younger people may not, no matter how much they might have studied their history books.
I anticipate better, and let people be who they are, knowing that trying to change people is a fruitless endeavor, although I do encourage change. I give more of myself and help others more than I did at one time.
I am politically more active, putting actions behind the words, and showing people that I will stand up for my beliefs and the beliefs of others.
But the single biggest difference I’ve noticed is acceptance. Much like the serenity prayer that many Christians know, I understand the difference between those things I can change, and those that I have to accept because I cannot change them.
And the wisdom to know the difference comes with age.
It isn’t that older people necessarily give up on things because of health concerns, or because they’ve become disillusioned. While that is true in some instances, I think that there are more older people who have already fought the good fight, that their scars prove their commitment, and that it’s time for the next generation to engage the enemy and carry on.
Retired people are more likely to see societal and technological changes, and more fully appreciate how current events are so radically different from the past, and the dangers they represent to an unsuspecting, younger generation.
Does that mean that older people are always right? No. But unlike many other nations whose cultures honor and respect the elderly, America is content to put their older citizens on a shelf until they pass on, hopefully before they bankrupt Medicare and Social Security, as I once heard a younger person say.
To accept age with grace is more than just a saying. There truly is nothing any of us can do to stop time, although a healthy lifestyle may slow it down a bit.
To age gracefully is to accept your age and make the best of it, to find the many good things at every stage of life and focus on those, rather than worrying constantly about the things out of your control.
Maybe you walk more than you used to jog, or maybe you buy a threewheeled bike rather than worrying about falling off a two-wheeler. And perhaps you listen to audiobooks because you can’t remember where you left your reading glasses half the time.
And maybe you give up your snug jeans in favor of relaxed-fit denim, and you buy more zippered clothing because the arthritis in your fingers makes buttons a challenge. You can fight Time all you want, but she will win, every time. Instead, accept the changes, find the good and focus on that. Change the things that you can, and accept those you cannot.
And for Heaven’s sake, quit trying to look two or three decades younger! You’re not fooling anyone!