Archives for posts with tag: aging

I heard someone recently say, “Getting old is not for sissies.” They were referring to the increased aches and pains that are a normal part of the aging process. The moving parts of our bodies tend to show effects of the wear and tear of years.

Advancing years may bring with it some new realities. Days turn into weeks and weeks become months which lead to years and decades. The mileage of all that time can take a toll on the physical body and on the mind.

If one is not careful, growing old can be negative. Fretting over the things that are not like they used to be can cripple our thinking. If unchecked, focusing on the things that are lost, or at least diminished, is an unhealthy practice and will dampen our enthusiasm for the life that remains.

Time marches on and so can we even when the years pile up. But we do not have to grow “old.”  Growing old is a simple matter of chronology. Growing “older” is an attitude- a state of mind. Rather than focusing on the limitations and often failing health of advancing years, we can embrace the new realities and recognize the advantages.

Andy Rooney was an American radio and television writer who was best known for his weekly broadcast “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney”, a part of the CBS News program 60 Minutes from 1978 to 2011. His final regular appearance on 60 Minutes aired on October 2, 2011. He died one month later on November 4, 2011 at age 92.

Rooney said, “It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” A prayer of Moses in the Bible (Psalm 90) extols the eternity of God and the transitory nature of humanity. He observes that “We live for seventy years or so (with luck we might make it to eighty), and what do we have to show for it? Trouble. Toil and trouble and a marker in the graveyard.” Then he asks God to “Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!” (Psalm 90:10-12, The Message).

We have a choice as we age. We can resent the loss of our youthfulness or we can choose to maximize the benefits of our years of experience. Academy Award winning actress Sophia Loren suggests, “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

Larry Minnix retired after many years in mental health and aging care professions. In his recently published book, “Hallowed Ground- Stories of Successful Aging,” he offers twelve secrets to aging well. One of the secrets is to “cultivate an attitude of perseverance.” He says that as you age you can adopt one of three attitudes. One approach to life is to see yourself as a Victim focusing on disease, decline, and dependency. A second possibility is to be a Denier and surround yourself with artificial trappings and practice avoidance. The best alternative suggested by Minnix is one of perseverance where one accepts aging and adaptations needed to make the most of it. Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie, agrees with Dr. Minnix and counsels us to simply “embrace aging.”

Hallowed Ground: Stories of Successful Aging

Job is a wealthy man in the Bible who is said to be “blameless” and “upright,” always careful to avoid doing evil.  Nevertheless he suffers incredibly horrible circumstances. Three of his friends come to visit him. After several days with him they share their thoughts on his afflictions in long, poetic statements. After one of them has given his take on things, Job replies, “As you say, older men like me are wise. They understand. But true wisdom and power are God’s. He alone knows what we should do; He understands” (Job 12:12-13)

I agree with those who encourage us to live life fully (at all ages) and recognize with Job that following God’s guidance in those years is the key to a life of fulfillment and contentment.

Jamie Jenkins

Happy Birthday

I celebrated another birthday last week. No big deal. But it is a big deal. Every year is a gift from God and I am grateful.

There was no party (didn’t want one) but there were a lot of birthday greetings from friends and family. A good morning hug and kiss from my wife of almost 49 years. Phone call from my daughter in California. A webcam with my oldest son and his family (especially the grandchildren). A trip to Mercedes Benz Stadium for an Atlanta United soccer match with my younger son. Dinner, compliments of a very dear friend. Nothing is better than to know that you are loved and appreciated by the folks who are closest to you.

family and friends

I remember years ago when one of my nephews asked me how old I was. “I replied that I was thirty. By the look on his teenaged face I must have appeared to be ancient. 30! His expression indicated that he thought I was surely on my last leg. He probably could not imagine that I would still be alive 44 years later.

I can remember when I thought persons my age were “old.” I still catch myself referring to people just a few years my senior as “old” or “elderly” although I don’t feel that way about myself. You are probably thinking, “He is out of touch with reality,” and you may be right.

There are many benefits to aging especially if one enjoys good health, and I do. I am alright with getting older. I just don’t ever want to get “old.” In thinking about the aging process I came across the following “Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess” by Margot Benary-Isbert.

Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so. Amen.” (Margot Benary-Isbert)

Life is good but another birthday brings with it the realization that life on earth is not forever and I am reminded of the psalmist words: “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a wise heart.” (Psalm 90:12)

Jamie Jenkins

 

Live Life 3

Two news stories caught my attention recently. One item was in the entertainment section and the other was on the sports page. They were on the same day and at first glance had no similarities. But I saw a very important principle shared by each.

Judi Dench

The first story was an interview with Dame Judi Dench who is back on screen in “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” a sequel to the surprise hit of 2011-12.

Roger Moore, writing for the Tribune News Service said, Dench, like her character Evelyn, isn’t interested in retiring although she is 80 years old. She keeps working even as she suffers from age-related macular degeneration, making it impossible for her to read scripts (she has them read to her).

Dame Judi said, “I heard a lady, a doctor, on the BBC the other day, saying ‘I cannot WAIT to retire!’ She was something like 58. And I thought, ‘What IS she going to retire to do?’ I am very, very ANTI-retirement. What DO you do with your time? What do you do with somebody elderly in your family? What do you do if you ARE that elderly person? … Best to get on with something.”

She starts each day “with a little checklist, everything I want to do that day. And if I don’t finish it, I just carry it over to the next. It’s a way to keep looking forward.”

John Jenkins

The other story was about a professional basketball player, John Jenkins of the Atlanta Hawks. He is in his third year in the NBA and he is not one of the big name “star” players. It’s been a rough road for Jenkins. After missing much of last year with back trouble that eventually required surgery, he has been in just 12 games this season and played only nine minutes. It looks like he might be traded to another team

Opportunity has knocked only a few times for John Jenkins this season. Still, when called, the Hawks shooting guard has answered. The headline for the news story was “When Duty Calls, Jenkins Is Up For It.”

Kyle Korver, who is in his 12th NBA season said of Jenkins. “The way he approaches every single day — his habits, his work ethic, dedication — even though he hasn’t gotten the opportunity that he has been hoping for, he has been unbelievable to me in just how positive he has stayed and how he has kept on working.”

“You have to step up,” Jenkins said. “At least for me, that’s what I think when I go in there. I have to play as hard as I can.” Veteran player Elton Brand said, “He could complain but he doesn’t. He just plays his role.”

Eighty year-old actress Dame Judi Dench and John Jenkins, who will have his 24th birthday tomorrow, exhibit the same attitude. One of them is in the sunset years of life and the other is in the prime of life. But they both have a positive attitude about life and their career. They are talented in different ways and each one gives it their best every day.

Live Life 2

The Psalmist prayed, “Lord, teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!” (Psalm 90:12, The Message). Dame Judi and John Jenkins are examples of people who are attempting to do that. Lord, help us all to do the same. Live well. Love a lot. Do our best. Fulfill the purpose God has for us.

Jamie Jenkins