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  • Carroll Devine

The Joy of Ages

When we were in our teens and twenties, the word was, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” We were sure we knew an awful lot about life then and didn’t hesitate to share our opinions, whether fact-based or not. What’s more, we were INVINCIBLE, and we had a lot of fun proving that.

Then, Gulp, suddenly, we were part of the distrusted, over-thirty group, and even though we had to assume some responsibilities – with our jobs, relationships, families, society – we discovered that life was still GOOD. We realized then that even at our cynical best, we didn’t know EVERYTHING. Well, we came pretty close, but allowed that Life could yet teach us some things, and we enjoyed the exploration as we were defining who we were.

Our forties brought us confidence, as we carved out more definition and direction to our lives. We felt “callings” and found work that could sustain us and bring some satisfaction, even if only temporarily. Those years earned us a measure of respect from society. Now, although we still had some questions and were open to learning some new things, we KNEW what we were doing.

By our fifties we had some accomplishments behind us and began to be “who we were.” We felt a little more freedom from society’s straight jacket thinking, cared a little less about other people’s opinions of us, and didn’t ALWAYS become offended when our opinions, perspectives, or even life choices were questioned or attacked.

We looked forward to, but at the same time didn’t look forward to, the next decade. Sixty, like thirty, was a scary number, like standing at the edge of a cliff. Who knew what could happen. Suddenly, we were at the cliff, known far and wide as Senior Citizenry. Now rather than being dis-trusted we were becoming dismissed and invisible. This mattered, and it didn’t matter. We learned to laugh at the dismissal while at the same time we felt a little sorry for those who would dismiss us. They might never know the wealth of WISDOM or the abiding love and joy we held in our hearts and minds. But WE knew, and we knew we knew. And we also came to accept that the more we knew, the more there was to know. We found pure joy in learning and in finding beauty.

By our seventies and beyond, we had a SECRET. Some of us learned to dismiss the dismissals. In spite of any limitations we might have (and there are some at every age) we carried on anyway with our life’s work and love. We learned that generosity is life-sustaining for the giver as well as the receiver. So we spread the benefits of the wealth of our experiences, our intuition, our self-acceptance, our stories, and our JOY to anyone who would receive them.

Consider these individuals who were either late bloomers or among those who keep/kept on shining later in life: Jerry Brown, Debbie Harry, Grandma Moses, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Picasso, Ronald Reagan, Betty White, Ernest Gaines, Helen Mirren, Colonel Harlan Sanders, Samuel Jackson, Meryl Streep, and Tony Randall.

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