DON’T GET OVER IT – GET ON WITH IT!
There is a cultural shift happening, slowly but surely. More and more people of all ages are catching the movement and discussing more seriously the reality of aging. Notice the growing number of articles, books, conferences, and general conversations that are focusing on the fact that the aging dynamic is not being portrayed so much as a dangerous “tsunami” coming at us but rather older people are being seen as a natural “reservoir” , full of talent, experiences, and wisdom! As a matter of fact, older adults are the only “natural resource” in the world than is growing rather than diminishing! And that’s great news!
So, people of God, regardless of age, what are we going to do about it? How about using the phrase, “Don’t get over it – Get on with it!”? Get on with living the life the Lord is giving us, as His gift to us. Get on with celebrating life and serving others, regardless of your age. Look at people younger than you as gifts to mentor and encourage. Look at people older than you as gifts to listen to and learn from. As someone once said (probably Martin Luther), “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”.
Those of us who continue to depict aging as a “disease” are really insulting our own future self! The new frontier ahead of us is “longevity”! So, again, let’s raise the banner that says, “Don’t get over it – Get on with it!” Ageism (i.e., seeing older people as of less value, infirmed, wrinkling away, etc.) stems from the perception that old people are irrelevant. Ageists, as they age themselves, become the people they once abhorred. Sad, but true. However, there still is a way to change our perception about aging and one of the initial ways is to begin talking to and listening to people younger and older than ourselves.
Granddaughter Sarah, student at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, shared a delightful experience about one of her Spanish classes as they discussed the story of Rip Van Winkle. Students were asked to describe their perceptions of older adults. Sarah made a list of comments and shared it with me. Most of the students used words and phrases like: slow, grouchy, old-fashioned, crippled, out-of-it, hard-of-hearing, and anti. Wow, can’t you just tell that these young people are eagerly looking forward to their future! Sarah went on to say that she offered some positive terms to the list , such as experienced, good sense of humor, wisdom, listens well, and fun, but still found herself in the minority! Hooray for Sarah ! She’s still in our Will!
I look forward to continuing to challenge myself and those around me to live out this motto –“Don’t get over it – Get on with it!” Jeff Greenberg, in a recent article in the New Yorker, “Why Ageism Never Gets Old”, suggests three ways of dealing with aging:
- Have the older live among and with the younger. (Sounds like “family” to me!)
- Bolster self-esteem throughout the culture to diminish the terror of aging. (Sounds doable to me!)
- Calmly accept our inevitable death. (Sounds theological to me!)
I am reminded of another quote heard recently. “You only live once. And if you do it right –once is enough!” The joy we have as forgiven people of God is to realize through faith that even though we may have messed things up in past years, that we may not have treated our grandparents like we should have, or that we still might be confused on what aging is all about, we still begin each new day as forgiven people of God, in Christ Jesus!
I look forward to joining you as together we “Don’t get over it” but rather we continue to “Get on with it!” as we celebrate God’s gift of aging!