“You old geezers are scared of change.” Is that so? Well, this old geezer is not scared of writing an essay about all that, in detail.
That old folks get set in their ways is hard to deny. In old age everything, from joints to bowels, are set like concrete. It’s hard to get off your duff or off the pot. So why shouldn’t our ways and mores, our mind and mindset, be hard to move, too? Alas, the brain shrinks, the ballroom is downsized and there’s less room to waltz around, even in slow motion. Even if the old body were as springy as it used to be, the interest is gone, there’s no pleasure in it (Eccl 12:1-6 nails it). For old folks, flailing around trying to change is a vexation, an aggravation, a botheration. I need a nap.
And I’m not afraid to say I shrink from things I once plowed right on into. My courage receded just like my libido, which once fired up plenty of courage.
Fear of flying, especially of the TSA and strip searches. Afraid of dying and afraid of driving, especially on LA freeways. Fear of coping, unable, or forgetting, to call the cow home, or hear her bell, or milk her, or to dodder out to the well. Or where the well is. Or that there is one. Scary. And that was before PINs and passwords and code words and accounts to remember, and Medicare eligibility and whether Medicare will cover it, and IRS laws and forms and homestead deductions, and forgetting where the car is in the parking lot, and computer crashes and power outages, and how to get anything fixed or who to call for anything, and drivers tests, and whether the trash pickup will refuse paint or whatever and if not what to do with it, or whether I paid the mortgage this month, the whole e-infrastructure, the whole government-industrial-energy-hospital-credit/debit card complex, and identity theft, and what if somebody steals my wallet, or whether they’ll jail me for a new hate crime. Another day on the robo-phone trying to straighten out the last Verizon or whatever bill, for English punch 2, "now please punch in your 24-digit ...," I couldn't hear the rest. What did you say? What’s a digit?
You’ll never catch me with a smartphone. As a teenager I learned to flutter all ten of my fingers over the qwerty keyboard, and I’ll be darned if I’ll regress to just my thumbs, which are stiff anyway. Besides, I’m deaf and all that smart talk is just gibberish to me. Even back when pagers were the latest thing I turned mine off. I’m not budging from my ancient (2008) steamer-trunk-sized Mac Pro to upgrade to the just-released pencil-pot-sized model, a funny looking thing. And I always have to chuckle (but try to hide it) at one of my best friends, a fellow octogenarian, retired physician top in his med school class, an endowed professor and chairman emeritus, winner of many awards for all the innovations he brought to his department and for his research, a walking database of the latest medical literature, won’t have a computer of any kind in his house. Eccentric old coot, he doesn’t do email, my main way of communicating nowadays. Next joke?
It’s all fearfully funny, isn’t it? LOL, as teen texters’ thumbs say for 1387 likes. I’m chuckling right along with you.
Excuse me while I turn up my hearing aids – repeat, please. “You. Old. Geezers. Are. Scared. Of. Change! On second hearing, that doesn’t sound so funny. Sounds more like a snarl, a barroom dare – you’re just scared – a bully’s taunt straight from a 5th grade playground or high-school dragster race down Main Street – scaredy cat! Scaredy cat Sounds childish.
Sounds like it is time for some Wisdom Of Age, to wit: Grow up!
The Wisdom of Age -- not to be sneezed at, is laughed off. Once revered, then laughed at, now laughed off. The Wisdom of Age “gets no respect,” as Rodney Dangerfield used to say in his changless comedy shtick, always got a laugh. Dangerfield himself is so old and fixed he’s dead.
Maybe, muses the wise old man, you whippersnapper texters laugh at The Wisdom of Age because … you are scared of it, because you don’t really know what it is. But, how could you?
The wisdom of Age is itself change, change that takes a lifetime to happen, the biggest and most blessed change that can happen to a man, certainly nothing to be scared of but rather to be aspired to, envied, and listened to. The wisdom of age is the ultimate flowering of life blooming only upon soil turned and ploughed deep decade upon decade, watered and weeded relentlessly for scores of hard years, finally yielding a blossom of greater value than Warren Buffet’s 401K or all the gold of Ophir and Oprah put together, more meaningful than the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Wisdom of Age is that change within the mind whereby a person can decide which changes work and which do not, and from that experience to know whether to fear or desire it. The Wisdom of Age is the change in you that comes from eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is not a fast food.
Please, the Wisdom Of Age is not a blanket of fear the unremittingly shivering old person is wrapped in, the fear originating from inside what’s left of a withered old brain itself. That’s not the wisdom of age, that's Alzheimer's, that's different.
So how can an old man be afraid of change just because it’s change? I’m not afraid of change upon change upon change, just bored with it and weary of it -- change, change, nothing settled, bother bother, vanity all is vanity. Is a change for the good or for the bad? The Wisdom of Age knows that that is the fearful question. Of all men the old man is the most afraid of bad change and the most eager for good change.
If the change works, bring it on. If a change doesn’t work, run for your life! That is not cowardice of the unknown, but instinctive recoil from the all-too-well-known. We've burned our fingers on that hot potato too many times. Our eyes may be blurred but our dread of specific bad changes is laser focused. Having lived through bad change, an octogenarian knows that it should never have happened.
The wise old man doesn't ratchet himself up out of his Sharper Image massage chair and clap his heels together at some new change just because it has gone viral on the web and all your Facebook friends have flipped, or flip-flopped, for it, it's got 23,238,461,023 likes and 8 awards and Michael Moore or Nat Geo is making a docu about it. The old coot doesn't get shivers up his leg and palpitations just because activists have managed to get a little old white lady TV chef, a superannuated NBA owner, or a fast-chick-food CEO (the usual suspects) fired for the hate crime of dragging their old feet against ... whatever it is -- what is it? Your wise old geezer doesn't start waltzing just because everybody in the village gets free TVs and NBA tickets, free tattoos, solar panels, and condoms, and waivers.
All that youth can know about looming change is the advance hype. The rollout however glitched is all the hard information the kids get, all it takes, all they can handle, hahahahaha. All "Generation OMG" needs to go into another little street dance is for the change to be free, psychedelic and free. It may prove all wrong, deceptive, downright lies, at least inaccurate. It may not be the change you can believe in at all, after all, but right now, what does it matter?
Nikes flapping, youth plunges full blast straight into change. In slippers, old age is for feet dragging, or, alas, foot drop. Arguably, young metabolism was engineered by the Creator for such immediacies as texting a date or getting a doctorate, to get things moving, and to get another generation generated to get things moving, and so on. Demonstrably, youth is for originating and creating change. Fortunately, old age is not so much for creating change as for judging, from a detached perspective like a judge behind a bench, the value of changes that have been created. Mercifully, old age is done bothering with all those preliminaries and can finally get down to the really serious business – God. If the ear has gone deaf to Dolby blasting, all the more open to God’s still, small voice, the Wisdom of The Ages.
So here’s the change I’m really eager for, 1 Corinthians/15:51-52, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” And talk about quick change, this one will happen “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” The sooner, the quicker, the more twinkling, the better.
But now what's this I'm hearing? I’m hearing, megaphoned so loudly that it comes through even with hearing aids turned to mute, from the pulpit (including some of ours) and the White House, from the President and every politician, professor and protester, priest and pastor, the same synced shout: “Old geezers are scared stiff of change. Old geezers are so spooked at change they’re scared of gay marriage, simply because it’s change.”
There you go again, it never changes -- laughing off the Wisdom Of The Ages, Romans 1:26-27. Grow up!
What, me change?
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