The Chinese have always revered their elders. They have depended on them for their wisdom. The more furrows on the brow meant greater resources of experience and insight. What could be more natural and advantageous than tapping into this? By listening to their seniors the young garnered valuable lessons:  what to embrace, what to avoid. And those closer to leaving this life, soon to be united with their ancestors and their gods, have always been held in high esteem. Elegant works of art, some thousands of years old, are testament to this. In the western world too, the sagacious ‘bearded’ ones have been revered for their cogent thought. From Bible scribes to Greek philosophers, you can still find timeless wisdom.

Unfortunately in much of today’s superficial world growing ‘old’ is something to be dreaded. Hair dyes, skin creams and a host of other ‘youth’ preservatives are essential weapons battling the deterioration of the body. Exercise and diet also help extend its vitality. Nothing wrong with that. Maintaining good health should be everyone’s goal. But when a society is so obsessed with youthful appearances something is askew. When maturity and accomplishments are ignored, immature, ignorant decisions prevail.

What could have caused this preoccupation with ‘staying young’? Why are so many fearful of growing old? Could it have something to do with declining faith? Uncertainty that life has meaning? That all stages of life have lessons with concomitant challenges that build character, a better you? Is there so much emphasis on pain avoidance and escapism that the discomforts of aging are dreaded? Is pleasure such a god that diminishing appetites and sensual stimulations are seen as undermining the reason for living? Is “stay young as long as possible” the essential mantra for enjoying life?

How short sighted. For with age comes so many gifts, so many abilities:  patience, perspective, appreciation of beauty in all things. As your childish self-consciousness abates, as your drives to attract and accomplish become less important, you grow into a much more complete human being. You pay attention to what is truly important:  relationships, inner growth and peace. You can relate to the world more spontaneously, more effectively. For you have abandoned the trivialities and superficialities of youth. You have grown into a unique, complex being with respect for what is meaningful:  ultimately love.



©2007-2008 Edwin O'Shea and All or part of only one topic, including all definitions and essay, may be used without written permission. Please see full copyright notice on home page.