Monday, April 25, 2016

Right Behind You

Watch this 99 year old run!

I take this opportunity to say, "Thank God for YouTube!" Granted, it's got it's extreme and serious dangers. But, it seems I'd have to search those dangers out, because they just don't show up in my feed. Due to YouTube's algorithms, that beautiful piece of software knows I want historical documentaries (let's hear a cheer for, Time Team!) quirky facts (this award goes to Mental Floss On YouTube!) and finally, prodigies. 

I can't get enough of those little four year old's banging out some Tchaikovsky piece on the piano. Or how about those little three year olds who can recognize all of our President's, plus some facts?! (I can't even remember which president was so fat he got stuck in the White House bathtub, but he knows!) Those singers, and dancers, mathematicians... They are mind boggling! 

Why? Why are these little geniuses so inticing? Besides the fact that they're so CUTE, they're exceptional because the population of them is so small. Just like rare gems, the less available something is, the more valuable it is. So, we watch these little big shots (head-nod, Steve Harvey) with great interest and delight. But we lose interest in the masses. When you have a classroom of fifty geniuses, we don't generally find a camera crew in there documenting the brilliance. 

Why? Why aren't we as captivated with a room full of sixteen year olds doing complicated maths and sciences? Because it's "a room full," that's why. The  shift in age puts even the exceptional ones in the masses. They haven't lost any value, they're just not in the minority any more. 

The older I get, the more I'm looking for aged, mature examples of goodness and fulfillment for my senior years. And I've discovered something...

I have found that the aged who have purpose are as attractive & remarkable as the four year old piano prodigy.

I am aware that age brings aches and pains that cause life to be uncomfortable. (I am not looking forward to that.) I am aware that "the empty nest" brings a sense of loss and loneliness. (I push down panic at the mere thought.) I am aware that a lessened income brings more worry about bills, not the least of which are medical bills. (Well, I've managed to write myself into a hole of doom!) I am aware that aging is not awesome. 

But, I want to know how and why some aged people present themselves so well. I know some sixty year olds who feel bed-ridden, and other sixty year olds who are world explorers. I know some some fifty year olds who insist that they're "old," and others who feel like they're still thirty. 

It seems to me that one of the glitches in this aging-with-purpose thing is appearance. It seems that as long as a person feels they can control their appearance of age that they feel in control of other aspects of life. This is a trap of destiny-less vanity. I truly know the sickening thud in the gut at the realization of "age" in the form of wrinkled skin and greying hair. But just as its a trap for a twelve year old girl to dress, fix her hair, and make up her face to look like a sixteen year old, it's equally damaging for a fifty year old to do so. She's NOT sixteen, she's twelve. The fifty year old is NOT twenty, they're fifty. 

Acceptance of self is HUGE in presenting the most attractive appearance. If a sixty year old is more interested in what they can DO rather than how old they "look," then they will attract people to their purpose simply in their behavior. Because this behavior is so rare, the ones who are filled with purpose over appearance keep us spell-bound.

One of a couple of people who have inspired me of late is a lady who's husband died. She hadn't worked outside the home in years. Her late husband was a pastor, which made her a shoo-in to jobs and departments in the church, such as "ladies director," or "decorator," not to mention that all-powerful title of "pastor's wife." (Yes. I hear you pastors' wives laughing at the idea of "all-powerful.") She suddenly found herself, not only a widow, but position-less. With the death of her husband came the death of her jobs. On top of all of that, to allow the incoming pastor's family the freedom to awkward growth without the added strain of the former pastor's wife always present, she relocated to her daughter's home. My sympathies give this woman a pass on purpose. I fully understand her spending her days in a fetal position in a dark room. Fully. But, she didn't allow herself that.

She began to notice a convenience store en route to her new home. It seemed to be the depot for immigrant farm workers to pile into the bed of a work-truck to head to the fields together. She also noticed they had no gloves. This lady suddenly saw a purpose she could fulfill! She went to the local dollartree and bought gardening gloves. She says she chose the dollartree because she could buy all she needed, but also because she knew they'd fall apart soon, giving them need of her. Which, of course, wasn't at all about needing "her," her purpose in giving them work gloves was to woo them to Christ. She wanted ongoing connection with these people. What an amazingly purposed woman! She was so beautiful to me; wrinkles, grey hair, plumpness, and all! 

Another aged inspiration of mine is a retired pastor. After many years of preaching the gospel to large and small crowds, traveling all over the world to minister, being admired and respected the world over, he found himself... Old. Unable to drive, unable to live without  medical attention, unable to fly to the places he loved. He asked to be dropped off in the mornings at his local Starbucks. He made "available to the youth" his job. He taught Bible studies, he had thousands of conversations about life. So many young businessmen have never had a conversation with a guide of that caliber. I would have given him a pass to relax in the comfort of his bed every day, all day. But he chose a purpose that outshone his frailties. His purpose made him so strong and appealing.

In conversations about the olders romping and stomping with purpose, I'll never be able to leave out Caleb, in scripture. The man was eighty years old and ready to strap on his armor to take a city! He couldn't have been an easy tiger to live with.

I can't read enough articles, or hear enough stories about people over the age of fifty who are writing books, traveling, swimming, running, volunteering, blogging... They are so beautiful and attractive to me. Their skin isn't wrinkle-free, but they're beautiful with purpose. Their hair shimmers with silver, but it's not a deterrent as it matches their shining example. They've got their age-spots, but they're eclipsed by their drive. Their purposes, their behaviors make them unique, rare, and SO attractive. 

I don't know what separates the old from the young, but it's NOT a birthday. Someday I will get to discover for myself if I get to choose between a bed or a cafe table. Until then, I will keep my eyes on the ones who are like Caleb and actually believe they are no more feeble at eighty years old than they were at forty years old.

As of this writing I am forty-three years old. (I just had a birthday last week!) I send out a reminder to everybody who thinks you're "old," that I'm right behind you. And I need you to show me how to match age with purpose. I need you to show me how to get out of a recliner and into a passion. I need you to show me that while my appearance can't be in my control, my behavior is in my control. 

You have my support. I've got your back. I'm right behind you. 

Let's do this!   

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