“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” Vincent Lombardi
As I was working on the last installment of this three-part series, I found it difficult to find random pictures of older adults working or achieving. There were many photos of seniors laughing, playing cards, exercising which are all wonderful experiences, but I discovered few depictions of an over-65-year-old doctor, lawyer or creative person. Well, it is going to be up to those of us who are Boomers to change the script/image and forge the way for generations to come. Life span has increased over the years, and I suspect it will continue to expand even more for your children and their children. We need to remind people that purpose and meaning only have to die when we do. Aging may require some slowing down and realistic adjustments but that does not equate to stopping dead in one’s tracks. In fact, it could contribute to stopping dead in your tracks.
So how might we change the script/image? Well, we must remain inquisitive and open to the idea of acquiring knowledge. Investor’s Business Daily publishes its newspaper every day with Ten Secrets of Success. Number 4 illuminates the need to never stop learning. It goes on to state one should return to school, read books, get training and/or acquire skills. Some people would say they are too old to take on a new venture. I would challenge such a construct. Being in the people business all of these years, I have no doubt that each of us are capable of more than we may realize even at an older age. There are many successful older adults who are examples. Yes, they have talent, but more significantly, they have patience and perseverance. Coincidentally, as I was beginning to form my thoughts for this blog, the Wall Street Journal published an article on one page about the 86-year-old author and illustrator, Eric Carle, who has frequently threatened to retire but continues to write books. On the next page, there was an article about Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who worked until he was 90 years old. I gave a couple of other examples in Part 2 and could cite many more, but it is not necessary. The salient point is to remind someone that the brain is a powerful organ, and the more you exercise it, the more you might discover what lies within even at an older age. For those of you who doubt, I challenge you to go online and google all of those people who did great work after ages 50, 60 and even 70. If we Boomers have our way, those numbers will increase markedly. The beauty of living in the twenty-first century is that innovation has provided us the gift of the Internet. The click of a mouse provides an infinite source of free information. There is absolutely no reason why one cannot take advantage of this magnificent tool to propel us forward. We Boomers are very fortunate!
Some do not comprehend the desire to work or achieve past a certain age. In Part 1, I wrote about barbs directed towards my spirited mother. Those who voiced such remarks probably question many things outside the sphere of their own belief system. I have no doubt some of the same people might question why I would not put down a 16-year-old dog with compromised vision and hearing along with bladder problems. Well, this little dog, Biscuit, has much animation to him. Right now, he just wants to keep going as my mother did and as so many others continue to do. Upon my arrival home from work, Biscuit joins our other pooches with barks and tail wags creating an atmosphere of laughter and joy.
Most Boomers recognize that work, achievement, creativity and connectivity contribute to a sense of autonomy and increased self esteem. Thus, mature adults should be encouraged to keep going and going until they cannot. As for Biscuit, he will let me know when he is ready for his final journey home. When that time arrives, I will return him to my mother with comfort and ease, and know in my heart of hearts she will be on the move welcoming him with open arms.
References and Suggested Readings:
IBD’s 10 Secrets To Success. (2015, October 13). Investor’s Business Daily. page A3.
Alamo, M. (2015, October 9). Eric Carle, 86, Tells a New Tale The Wall Street Journal, page D5.
Teachout, T. (2015, October 9). Voices From the Grave The Wall Street Journal, page D6.