WHAT A MISTAKE it would be to hang-out only with people my age or younger. I visit Evelyn a couple of times a month. I always leave refreshed, inspired, educated, humored and challenged. Evelyn is special, but not unique in my life. She is well-cared for by her family, but I have sat in the presence of many elders who are warehoused in facilities, languishing in loneliness; their wisdom & experience sitting like dusty books on shelves, waiting to be opened. What a missed opportunity.
Perhaps we are afraid of our shared fate of aging. Perhaps a symptom of our naivete is the shallow assumption that we will all get old some day, and we don’t want to face it in a youth-obsessed culture. When I was young, I was active in my addiction, living in a chemically-induced illusion of eternal youth and the sufficiency of self-centeredness as a way of life. But now I am older, and clean and clear of the impediments of drugs, denial and delusion. And I want to know and to learn from our elders…
With all the disease and war and health crises in the world; just how does someone manage to live so long? What do they have to teach that we are willing (or unwilling) to learn? When (if ever) did they learn to how relax into life and let things go a bit better? What, if anything, would they do again; and what, if anything, would they avoid at all costs? Is the world truly different today than it was in the past? How does it feel and how do you cope with the fact that virtually everyone you knew when you were young is now either dead or dying? Is it possible to have the wisdom of age while still young?
Go find an elder. If you don’t have one of your own kin who fits the category, borrow one. There are plenty of them to go around.