Aging with Purpose
Did you ever wonder why sometimes old
people are described, or even labeled as "geezers"? Not very
complimentary indeed. What does is mean, really? Well, like most
words, phrases, and communication, it often begins with the speaker.
Some may say "he's an old geezer" without any further thought to it.
Imagine someone growing up in a family or community in which it's
just another way to describe a quiet old man. On the other hand, it
could be quite derogatory. The meaning and implication could be of
being really, really, really old. Again, depends on your
perspective. Think back to your late teens and very early 20's. Did
you ever celebrate with a friend or colleague turning 25 years old,
and wish them a "Happy Quarter of a Century Birthday"? Seems like
nothing now, but what did it imply at the time? 25 years old was
really old. Then. And there are those that may have implied,
"tightwad", "socially outcast", or other very judgemental ideas when
they called someone a geezer. Let take a different approach.
How about we define a geezer as one who has paid their dues, who has
wisdom to share, and who has a great deal of life and purpose left
Getting older, aging, is a season of life. You can look forward
to it with gusto. Don’t just retire and die. Start planning now if
you're not already retired. Know what is really important to you.
Family. Friends. Write down your life goals. It's not over
yet. For example, "We've always wanted to travel". Where to?
What's your destination, or list of destinations? And what else
have you been wanting to do for years? Let's get started!
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are fictional characters. As you
consider the idea of purpose, and aging with purpose, think back for
a moment to your experience and knowledge of the famous fictional
detective. No, it's not real life. But truth, knowledge, and wisdom
can come from many sources. Consider this utterance from The
Adventures of the Blue Carbuncle, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: “My
name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people
do not know.” It's quite a statement. Written for literary impact
and character development. And it is quite bold. By this statement,
Sherlock Holmes announces to the audience, and the world, his
What about aging with purpose in the real world. Most of us wear
many hats. Throughout our lives we have found purpose in our
families as sons and daughters. Many of us have continued with more
purpose as Fathers and Mothers, Grandfathers, and Grandmothers. And
as Uncles, Aunts, and Godparents. Within the working world, all
those years building a career, going to a job everyday, and being
productive while providing for the needs of life added purpose. For
some, their faith has been an integral foundation of purpose
throughout their lives. It has been expressed in their activities
and involvement with others. And life in the community has brought
purpose to many, often in line with individual focus and passions.
Supporting arts, music, drama, and others expression of talents has
been a source of personal motivation.
Family and Purpose
Behind every geezer is a family. A Mother and a Father.
Let's go back to childhood. Yes, those early years. We share
similar experiences such has starting school, the elementary years,
and growing through adolescence. And while many may share similar
experiences in family life, the variety is nearly infinite. Your
experience is unique to you. Did you grow up in a loving, supportive
family group, Mother and Father together for life. Yes, sounds like
the Leave It to
Beaver life. Or did you grow up in a more or less
dysfunctional home? We're your parents separated sometime before
your 18th or 20 birthday? Did you experience a blended family
through your your younger years? Or did you lose a parent completely
through separation or death? It's not always easy to look back at
how you got to where you are today. But it can be helpful as you
look to the years ahead.
Growing older with purpose can be enhanced by your version of
family. This is about you at the moment, no one else. You know your
unique family situation. If you have a loving spouse with common
interests and a share vision for the future, you are blessed. Beware
not to take that for granted, to nurture it, and to spend time on
it. You are never too old to have a regular "date night". Schedule
it and make a point to honor it. And if your situation is living
with a spouse or living alone, who do you look to as family? Do you
have grown children, and grandchildren? How is your relationship
with them? Are they local, near you? Are they far away? How often do
you see them? How much are you in contact with them? Do you go to
your grandkids baseball and soccer games? And their band concerts?
Have you ever taken your grandchildren away for a weekend, just you
and one of them at a time? What a wonderful way to connect with them
beyond the regular distractions of our highly technological world.
And if distance separates you from family, your options for regular
communication and connection are broad from that technology. No
excuses today and lots of options: Telephone, email, texting
funny and encouraging pictures, Facebook Face Time, GrandPad
video conferencing designed for seniors, and road trips are all
ideas to get you started.
There is a old saying, "you can't chose your family but you can
choose your friends". You may be more alone from your natural family
than connected. It's never too late to make amends if desired.
Consider that carefully, only you know your real family situation.
And how many times in your life, have you found yourself spending
much more time with your friends than your family? Friendships are
built on trust and mutual interests, along with a lot of time spent
together. There is no magic formula to develop friends, yet there
are common patterns. Friends can talk about specific , personal,
intimate topics completely out of bounds in regular conversations.
Friends believe in each other and support each other, through thick
and thin. In fact, that's what makes friends so special, they
accept you for who you are in spite of your human
failings. Yes, we're all humans here and we all mistakes and
have missteps at times. It is no mean feat to develop deep, abiding
friendships based on trust. It takes time, shared experiences, and a
willingness to forgive and move on from failures.
Career and purpose
Let's talk about your career. You know, before becoming a geezer.
What did you do for a living? Actually, what did you do for a
living the first time? When you were younger? Then what did you do
for a career next, and next, and next? It sounds like an easy
question, what did you do? But for many, in fact most of us, life
often involved career changes, job changes, even moves changing
locations, uprooting the family and moving around.
And in your job, career, and that place many of us went to
day after day after day after day, did you find purpose? One
of the great tragedies is to know someone who spent 40 years of
their life going to a job they hated. For them, each day began with
dread. And equally, if not more so, they spent those 40 years
looking forward to the day they could retire. Even more tragic, is
when they find themselves bored and without purpose, and within the
first two years after working, they die.
If you were fortunate, and found the career or job you really
loved, you are blessed. And, you must have both passion and skills
related to that activity. How many times have you seen someone
retire, then go back to work part time, or in a consultative role,
in their old industry? For these people, there was purpose
throughout their life, in their career, and being able to continue
that at a slower pace, and by choice, can be fulfilling in later
For those who found them in a career that was less satisfying, but
"paid the bills", it is never too late. In both cases, it can be
very beneficial to stop and look at your passions. What do you love
to do? What makes you feel good about yourself? Each of these
involves both emotional health and mindfulness. What is retirement
after all? One definition would suggest "doing exactly what I want
to do everyday".
Consider Mr. Gates of Microsoft. Bill Gates was passionate about
his work. Years later, with much success behind him, do you think he
went to work everyday just to make the ends meet? Or perhaps he was
passionate about what he was doing, and really enjoyed going to work
everyday. Each of us has a path to follow and that includes the road
that lies ahead. Life is about choices. We are who we are from both
nature and nurture and all those experiences. You have a choice to
find the balance between those experiences you want to continue and
develop, and your want and need to expand. To be adventuresome, to
boldly go where you've never gone before.
Faith and purpose
Faith and purpose. How are they related for senior adults?
Faith. What does that mean to you? Faith and purpose? Does your
faith bring you purpose? How do you define faith? What words come
immediately to mind when you hear the word faith? How about
spiritual? What does it mean when you hear or say the word
spiritual? "I'm a spiritual being." "He and she are spiritual
beings". One could say the most universal question from every man
woman and child on the planet Earth is: why am I here? Why? All
alone it hints at purpose.
Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, Protestant, Mormon. As
people there is much evidence we seek an understanding of our
spirituality. Why was I born? What should I do with my life? Or,
what have I done with my life, and what will I do with the rest of
it. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of
things not seen." ~Hebrews 11:1. Faith is believing in someone
or something bigger than yourself. Faith is timeless. To a man or
woman of faith our lifetime on this planet is a mere speck in the
tapestry of eternity. All this leads back to the opening question
"what does faith mean to you?"
If your faith is secure, you may look forward to one day meeting
your maker face to face. It is a time of joy and of expectation. If
a walk of faith is a journey for you there is time to begin and
complete that journey. If this has no relevance to you or your life,
you may not have read in this far. You may have found this topic of
interest to others, but not to you. You may have skipped to the next
topic. On the other hand if anything in you is uncomfortable,
troubled, or confused at this point, you may want to listen to that
inner voice. Aging with purpose, includes every part of your being.
Your heart, your mind, your body, and your spirit. This may be a
time to listen and seek understanding.
Community and purpose
Geezer unite - in retirement communities!
The word community stirs up images of many things for many people.
Consider one Webster definition:
"Community: a group of people with a common
characteristic or interest living together within a larger society."
In short it's being together with other like-minded people
for a common purpose. Hey there's that word purpose again.
Community may be how you think of your friends. Community may be
your neighbors in your neighborhood. If you are in a small town you
may think of the whole town as your community. If you are involved
with sports groups, you may think of others you know and see at your
kids and grandkids soccer games. If you are on the Arts Council,
that may be the community for you. You might find community with
fellow sportsmen, fishermen. or hunters. You may find community with
like-minded fellow quilters. Yes as evidenced by those painted quilt
signs on houses barns and sign posts. Quilters sometimes have tight
knit relationships! (Yes, pun intended).
Consider the position that we all have a need to belong, the need
for a sense of belonging. This is very powerful when a group of
people come together to help each other, or others beyond
themselves. Such as those that fill sandbags when levees threaten to
break, and damage others homes and property. This sense of belonging
can be negative as well. How many times do you read headline news of
something gone awry, when a group of people become a mob of people,
and are destructive to others. Why? It's a common question. How did
this happen? Why did they do that? Belonging is sometimes more
important than the cause.
So how can we direct "community" to be a positive influence around
us? To influence others for the good? To make a difference in the
lives of others? And isn't that a powerful driving force in our
lives? To make a difference.
Embrace your purpose. Embrace your patience. Be part of something
bigger than you. Find your community if you are still searching.
Engage with your community continually and effectively if you are
already fortunate enough to have found it. And in both cases don't
stop there. Life is an adventure. Look around. Seek out. Find your
place. Life is too abundant to waste it watching reruns of Hogan's
Heroes, Gilligan's Island, and the Twilight Zone, no matter how much
you love them. And yes it's okay to watch them, just look outside
your door as well. Get involved and be involved with your community,
as you define it. Rumor has it, that social interaction is a key
preventative measure to ward off Alzheimer's. (We'll leave the
particular judgment of that up to you and the experts.)
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