Does becoming a senior citizen mean that our days of usefulness are over? I hope not. So far I’ve been blessed with a sound mind, except when I’m dreaming or creating a new piece of work; and I’m physically sound, except for the extra 20 pounds I’m lugging around.
God has words concerning the elderly throughout the Bible. Some of the wisest men lived well into their hundreds. I think that age is not looked on with the same respect that it was in ancient times or with certain cultures today. In these times of unrest and uncertainty, we need the wisdom that the older generation has to offer. Being mentors to the young – sharing our life experiences – lending words encouragement and inspiration – lifting up those who feel they’ve failed – are all ways in which we can still be useful in our senior years.
When we retire from the work force, we tend to feel useless. Part of our identity has been eliminated. Our lifestyle changes and our dreams of a work-free life have fizzled into having no purpose. When that happens to us, all other sorts of problems arise We feel a little sorry for ourselves and dwell on our health issues more. We give up doing things with friends. We isolate. We begin to forget things. Without that purpose for living we lose another twenty years or so without actually living them. The truth is we have a lifetime of experiences, learning and knowledge that we can share with the younger generation.
I am hopeful that by example we can teach others in our age bracket that our lives don’t end with each trip around the sun. Each day is a new beginning and we need to make the most of every one of them. Join a class on something you never had time to do when you were working. Volunteer as an older big brother. Share your stories with youngsters. Grandparents are often separated from the grandchildren and that relationship is very important to both generations. Use your talents to write a book, paint a picture, create, teach, learn new things and to reach out to others. When we stop living – we quickly die. I believe the knowledge and experience we’ve acquired in our lifetimes can still be of great benefit to society today. Let’s not underestimate what we can contribute to others’ life journeys. It took a long time for you to get here, so don’t waste what remains of your own life.
“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old. You grow old when you stop laughing.” – George Bernard Shaw