Jim, 82, told me that as people get older, they need to stay connected – and you may have to work at it. He gave the example of how he has branched out in his social life after retiring:
At 70 or 80 my lesson is: Learn to be social. Learn to be an extrovert socially. Enjoy the people around you, don’t criticize them so severely. Yes there are pluses and minuses associated with all people, but be sociable. Enjoy their company and share what’s germane in your own experience with people outside. They too are lonely at times and need somebody to support them. I happen to live in a county that’s dominated by conservative republicans, there’s some good people among them, I’m learning [laughing]. For a liberal democrat to say that- what heresy!
Let me give a little surprise for you. I read in the newspaper two years ago an ad by our county development office, chamber of commerce. And they were advertising for people on the cusp of their careers in their late twenties, early thirties, to apply for admission to a leadership training program. It was an attempt by the county to find people who were going to be the leaders of tomorrow and give them more background on how the county operates. I read and thought: This looks kind of interesting. I bet I can meet some good people and expand the circle of my acquaintances if I get involved in this thing.
So I called up the Chamber of Commerce on sort of a whim and I said ‘can you use another person to enroll in you course?’ And they said ‘oh yes, we’re interested in another person’ ‘Do you have any criteria for experience, for age and so forth’ they said ‘no, we don’t have any criteria’. ‘Well I’m rather old, elderly, would you like a senior person in the class with these younger people’, ‘oh yes, that would be beneficial’. They gave me a scholarsihp to attend this year long course with people that were in their late 20s and 30s. I made a lot of good friends, I enjoyed myself hugely and I’m still called upon to participate in subsequent events. And you know, when you think about fundamentals like that, youhave an opportunity to improve, to increase your value to the community around you. So I had afun time for a year, I was past 80 when I graduated and we all had a wonderful time. It was fun.