May 15, 2019

Aging with Gusto


Waters is what I call a Curious Elder — someone who manages to retain their curiosity as they age and stays interested in what young people are up to. The curious elder isn’t interested in judging youth, they’re interested in learning from them....

And of course, the flip side is true for youth: Be curious about what came before you and spend time listening to and learning from your elders — there’s a lot of wisdom and experience they have to share…"

Austin Kleon

My final thought experiment: Think of yourself as an Old Person in Training. In 2008, I heard geriatrician Joanne Lynn describe herself as an Old Person in Training, and I’ve been one ever since. I know I’m not young, I don’t see myself as old, and I know a lot of people feel the same way. They’re in the grips of a cruel paradox: They aspire to grow old yet they dread the prospect. They spend a lot of energy sustaining the illusion that the old are somehow not us.

Becoming an Old Person in Training bridges the us/them divide and loosens the grip of that exhausting illusion. It acknowledges the inevitability of oldness while relegating it to the future — albeit at an ever-smaller remove. It opts for purpose and intent over dread and denial. It connects us empathically with our future selves. As Simone de Beauvoir put it: “If we do not know who we are going to be, we cannot know who we are: Let us recognize ourselves in this old man or in that old woman. It must be done if we are to take upon ourselves the entirety of our human state.”

Ashton Appleswhite at ideas.TED.com