The Wisdom Of Age

Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel

So often these days we seem to overlook the value of people in the older stages of their life.  Youth is valued so highly in our society that once men and women reach later in life they can seem to be discarded, rather than prized for what their knowledge and wisdom can bring. 

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a couple at the meditation retreat I went to.  They were in their later years, both had successful careers and were remarkable to me in their attitude and passion for life.  They had all of us hanging on their every word to their knowledge, interesting career paths and wisdom.   They inspired me and in some ways helped me forge into new territories this year. 

Both had changed careers later in life and had thriving practices.  In fact the gentleman had only created a new chapter in his working life 7 years ago.  Proving it is never too late!

While this wonderful couple had created a willing audience in us, I also believe this was adding to their experience as well, as they were clearly being heard and valued for what they had to offer. 

It was suggested to me recently that the reason many fall into diseases such as dementia and Alzheimers is because they feel a lack of value in the world, and so retreat into themselves.  Furthermore that if you spend quality time listening to people with these illnesses, they can have moments of clarity because they feel heard.   Now I don't know this scientifically to be true and there are a lot of medical reasons for these afflictions, however if you believe in the mind, body connection, of which I do, it has a resonsence with me that this is distinct possibility.

I also believe at a later stage in life many come to more acceptance of the way life is, which I aspire to.  There is more chance of contentment and letting go of outcomes, which I believe is essential to happiness.  I remember my grandmother at 64 telling me if she had to go tomorrow, that she was okay with that because she had a wonderful life.  About to turn 100 this year she has had an extra 36 years on that comment! 

This sentiment was bought back to me at the retreat when the lady commented on being content with her life.  It is not that there was still not issues or problems, or that life was perfect, however overall she was content.  So my curiosity just had to ask why this was?  Her reply was that she loved what she did.   She had gone after what she was passionate about mid way through life, re-educated herself, and even now is still putting herself through new courses every year to keep up her qualifications and investigating the latest knowledge in her field. 

Being now at the same age approximately of when she changed career paths, it helped me to become aware for myself personally that now is the time to get going with my dreams if I want to achieve this contentment of which I'm aiming for.

I also look at women like Iris Apfel, an American business woman and interior designer in her 90's with everlasting style.  She is still consulted and lectures on fashion, design and various other topics.  

Who says you can't have a sense of style and fashion just because you are later in life?  My grandmother still loves putting on her red lipstick, and is always remarkably well dressed even in the nursing home.    

It shows me how important it is to always keep growing and striving for our dreams.   That when we are younger we need to listen to the wisdom of those that came before (no matter if they don't know how to use computer or are not up to date on social media).   Just because there are new ways of doing things it does not mean that the essential humanness of people is irrelevant. 

Remember one thing is that even though you may now be young, one day you will be at the other end of the spectrum.  Who do you want to be at that age?  What kind of life do you want to be living?

Take the time to value others who came before and the incredible knowledge they have to offer.