Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

"Youth has no age."   -- Pablo Picasso

As with most stages of life, getting older is a matter of perspective. An often-quoted birthday card sentiment states that getting older is a case of mind over matter; if you don't mind, it doesn't matter. Examples of those who pursue this line of thinking are countless. They include an assortment of forward-thinking folks from famous celebrities to your neighbors just down the block. They have learned to enjoy each day and stay involved in activities that provide joy. Members of this lucky group seem to have turned a blind eye to the calendar.

Throughout civilization, the word "aging" has often conjured images of infirmity and hostility, the proverbial old man screaming at the kids to stay off his pristine lawn, Ebenezer Scrooge, etc. You know what I mean. This is the imagery that promotes anxiety among those of us who are seniors and have sworn to avoid becoming geezers (one word that should be banned entirely!).

But "aging" can also provide a fresh opportunity to explore the world. Don't sweat everything. By now, we know that much of what we "worry" about doesn't matter at all. Learn to relax.

Stop trying to please everyone. Why worry what people think about you, people that you don't like anyway?  No amount of cosmetic procedures or hair implants can impress others as much a serenity, internal confidence and a great attitude.

Try to keep an open mind. Welcome input about new technology and ideas. You don't have to embrace the latest fads but just knowing the terms in passing or what is involved will help you feel connected to others. Don't be afraid to try new things.

Don't fear change. Threatening and unpleasant things have been with us for a very long time including most of the 20th century which brought us world wars and armed conflicts, rampant disease and worldwide depression. Did we whine when those situations left? No. It was change for the better. Much of change is for the better, even if it takes us a while to catch on.

Learn to tune out the static that pours in from all sides and look for the occasional gem of wisdom. But don't shut out everything. I once worked with a younger woman who was trying to conquer a simple office task. When I offered to show her an easy shortcut, she smiled and said nicely, "No thanks. That's OK. I've already learned all that I ever want to learn." She was 25 years old.

I have since wondered whether her wish was granted, poor girl.

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