We love it at the Legacy Project when our readers offer their wisdom. One such person (who wishes to remain anonymous) read an article I wrote in Aeon Magazine about why we need to see older people as sources of life wisdom. I think you will enjoy the insightful response – and the beautiful poem.
I wish more young people (including myself when I was young) paid more attention to old people as sources of all kinds of things. My grandmother was a pioneer emigree to an cattle ranch, from an English drawing room in the early 1900s. Instead of embroidery and piano recitals she coped with 13 children, winters, a log cabin and wolves around at night. But she died before I was old enough to talk to her much or appreciate what she might have told me about her thoughts and ideas about life in those years. Perhaps you could lead (or are leading) a movement to revalue the old, who are not all wise and wonderful but at least have experiences to share that offer some insights into life as is. I have to say magazines etc. for old people don’t play their part in showing the depth of what old people can offer, since so much of their material has to do with health, finances or travel. I once tried to get my retired teachers’ magazine to have ideas about life as a theme for one issue, but they didn’t bite and so we still get issues on hobbies and pets and cooking etc. etc. Pity!
And I just had to send you this poem – one of 60 in a book I self published for my kids when I was sixty, 15 years ago.
Sociologists study the old, write theses
On how people fit into society
Their machines survey,
Make graphs, collate pages
On finances, food habits, maladies,
But they don’t tell the true tale
On their tables and charts, how things strike the mind, the brain.
Sixty years hand in hand with experience
Don’t show on an axis.
As I walk by the sea, watch a child,
Study the stars,
Feel wonder and terror,
Only I know my real statistics.