Do you know how old your are…? No, not your birth-years. Your attitude-years. The way you take on your world each new morning?
If you don’t much think about the question, it’s safe to say you’re attitudinally young. Which, in America, is the thing to be. But, according to some, that’s precisely what’s wrong with youth. They can only see forward. Too young to have much of a past, too hopeful to fear the future, they intuitively think forward.
Just this week the legendary Kodak Company filed for bankruptcy. The eulogy in the media was: “Nostalgia is fine, but it keeps you from moving forward.”
Personally, even when very young, I always had this fascination with the elderly. At dinners, parties and services, I felt scrawny and callow standing next to men of size and substance. Yes, I could point to my stars; but they could point to their accomplishments. “Moving forward” is really only a verb, not an accomplishment.
In our community there’s a sprawling public park just down the block from a lovely senior home. The kids and their parents flood the park; only minutes away, elders wait to die. There’s something wrong with this picture. Occasionally some of the kids are lured into the home on little planned visits with their pets or hobbies. Usually the result is surprising gratification on both parts. But outside in the hurly-burly of everyday life, past accomplishments are expendable. Oh perhaps a few of their authors get a statue, but even then the young pause only briefly on their way “forward.”
When the kids and their parents in the park look out, they see one world; from their bedroom windows, the elders see another. One filled with the faces of their families and friends, their heroes and heroines, their favorite venues and values. Now long gone. Like the entries in their old telephone books sitting next to phones with which they now have so few to call.
And yet, I am tugged by the insistent feeling that we should be calling them! If only to ask them — as we would a traveler back from say the Holy Land — “pray tell me, what was it like, so that I might be more ready to move forward?”
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