New opportunities present themselves at every stage of life. Approach the aging process with courage and hope. Honor that which you have been, welcoming new possibilities for wisdom, objectivity, and greater knowledge of the Spirit. Realize that as time passes, new ways of receiving and reflecting God’s love will open.” —Intermountain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Advices and Queries
Jamaican culture used to include the convention that elders wouldn’t tell younger people their age. I’m not sure of the reason behind the rule, but Mario Martinez’ work on biocognition includes the advice that readers not to share their age no matter how old they are. People are easily caught in cultural understandings of aging.
And there are so many aging rules. If you’ve ever been told you’re “too young” or “too old” to enjoy an activity or make a certain decision, you’ve been subjected to social rules about age. It can be endearing to have elders want to include youth socially, and it can be frustrating to be rendered incompetent before you’re ready to wind down.
The last time I wrote about my grandfather, I said, “We need the long perspectives of time to learn well and take constructive action. And we need those who carry their wisdom in their bodies so it’s with them and of service to others wherever they might go.”
I still feel that way today, and Grandpa, in this post’s featured photo, is still one of my sample bodies!
Perhaps you too would like to enjoy and live well into your early 100s, hand-cutting sugar cane and taking walks around your yard in the sun. It’s not just length of life that Grandpa’s enjoyed; he also enjoys quality of life with the support of his local children and others. Overall, he’s is in better shape as a centenarian than some people thirty years younger than he is.
Bottom line? He isn’t meeting cultural expectations for people in his age group. He’s still active and social (and has all the same personality quirks he did as a younger man) and only convention says he shouldn’t be.
The Friendly advice to “approach the aging process with courage and hope” rather than fear is best applied when we’re young, just so we can keep practicing through the decades. As the Intermountain community wrote, “New opportunities present themselves at every stage of life.” That’s absolutely right—and it’s up to us to take those opportunities as they come.