Choosing to “Grow” Old
Last week I presented at a breakfast meeting for an association of folks in the events industry. Before my talk I was mingling and happened into a conversation just as a woman disgustedly exclaimed, “It’s true, youth is wanted on the young.” I then was quickly sucked into a conversation on “growing old.” Of the four people in the group, the oldest was probably no more than forty! One of the men said that when he got old, he wanted to be like his favorite uncle who, at the age of eight-three, was still flying a plane.
On the drive home I got to thinking – is youth wasted on the young? Well, yeah, there are SO many things I wish I could have told myself when I was in my twenties or I wish someone else had told me. But, really, how could I have known then what I know today?
“Youth” isn’t wasted on the young because youth is prime time for learning how to live – learning how to live from a place of silliness and fun, stupidity and failure, dreams and adventures. Youth is about not playing it safe – at least for a brief while.
The great English theologian, John Henry Newman, maintained that, “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” Youth most especially is a time to learn how to practice the art and skill of “change.”
When people fixate on “growing old” I think it’s a sign that what’s really happening is that they’re not changing. It’s because they’re stagnating that they’re feeling old; if they were “growing” old, they wouldn’t be feeling “old.”
It was the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw who said that “youth is wasted on the young,” but he also said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
The truth is there’s no creating life without hoping. In his book, “Making Hope Happen,” Shane Lopez claims that hopeful people share two common beliefs – that the future will be better than the present and that we have the power to make it so, though there will be obstacles.
Much like Shaw, Lopez maintains that when we choose hope (it is a choice) we define what matters most to our own self.
At the core of the book is this challenge: “Five years from now, what do you want your life to look like?”
That question implies that we do grow older and that all along the way we choose how we’re going to “grow.” That eighty-three year old pilot is flying today because of choices he made decades ago.
What about you – what do you hope for your life five years from now?
Please send your questions to JP Reynolds at: firstname.lastname@example.org