Q Why is “old” a negative?
A Aging, like time, keeps moving forward. While the movement of time is a neutral concept, humans assign value to it based on cultural beliefs and world-view. In many cultures, elders are revered and respected. Examples include Greece (where “Old Man” is a compliment), Korea (where passage into old age is celebrated at 70th birthdays) and Native Americans (elders possess the answers by virtue of their wisdom). Many cultures, however, seem focused on youth and newness, where years strip away value from people, things and ideas.
If you have lived for six or seven decades, congratulate yourself on your successful adaptation to changing times. You have jumped many hurdles, the first of which is surviving a world of accidents and viruses. Think of yourself as a victory against the clock!
Think of everything you have learned and that you know. Maybe you don’t remember something from your past or from yesterday. The brain has only so many slots in which to keep information. Yours are clearly full – you are a living history book!
Sort through your mental rolodex of all the people you have met and have known. They may not be in your life now, but they carried you through a certain time or experience. Celebrate all the conversations you have had, the friendly greetings and cordial handshakes. Reflect on how your good manners have provided you with a lifetime of relationships. A victory against loneliness!
Have you voted? Volunteered? Made someone laugh? Seen a great film, appreciated art, cooked a meal, raised a child or grandchild? A victory against boredom!
All these victories add up. If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You’ve won!