July 6, 2018

An Important Lesson About Life: From My Granddaughter


I had my 69th birthday about two months ago. When the first number in my age is still a six I can think of myself as older middle age. But, next year when that six is replaced with a seven, I am officially in the old category.

I mentioned to my granddaughter that 70 would feel like I had reached the top of the roller coaster track and what lay ahead was a fast, scary, downhill run to the bottom. 

She quickly told me my concern was misplaced. Amazingly perceptive for a nine year old she said, "Granddad, the fun part of the ride is when you go down! That's when it gets really exciting!"

Wow. That immediately stopped me in my tracks. She was absolutely right, not only about roller coasters but about what is to come. The exhilarating part of the experience can still be ahead. Her one, heartfelt comment summarized everything I have been writing about for over eight years: that we choose how we approach this stage of our life. As long as we can, we explore, grow, engage and stimulate all our senses. 

Obviously, just like a roller coaster, our ride comes to an end. We may have all sorts of technological wonders and amazing medical care (if we can afford it), but we still have an expiration date waiting for us.

We can dwell on that end and some of the unpleasant things that may lie ahead, or we can throw our arms up into the air, screaming with excitement and feeling the rush of life through our veins as we grab all the joy we can.



I can't think of a better analogy than the roller coaster's plunge down the hill. Thank you, granddaughter, for giving me a fresh look at what lies ahead.
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22 comments:

  1. Very well said. You have one smart granddaughter. Lucky you! Wish you excitement and fun.

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    1. Sometimes she sees life more clearly than I.

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  2. Out of the mouths of babies come infinite wisdom. That's a great way to look at aging.

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    1. Yes, it is. I felt better immediately.

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  3. I turn 70 in a few months and confess to having some negative thoughts and feelings about that milestone as well. A bit morbidly I've been thinking, "at least I'm still here," because so many of my age cohort are not, but that hasn't been a comforting thought. We tend to view our lives as moving uphill, perhaps when growing up, but then at some point, which varies by the individual, we start thinking of ourselves as moving downhill, as your roller coaster analogy shows. First we grow up, then we grow old.

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    1. We grow old physically. My granddaughter's comment helps me remember we don't have to grow old mentally.

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  4. What a wonderful and insightful comment from such a wise little girl! I'm turning 68 on Sunday and after the year we've all suffered through this year, I'm looking forward to it. In my heart I have to believe the insanity will stop soon. And, we all better get out and vote!. Happy Birthday, Bob!

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    1. Thanks, Barb. You and Dave have a great Sunday together.

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  5. I agree with you about attitude. It's so important to accept that chronological age but to continue to engage in life and keep on keeping on. My 41 yr old son teases me about being middle aged. I challenge him that he's the middle aged one. It's highly unlikely that I will live to be 122 yrs old!

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    1. I am pretty sure he was joking, but my dad used to claim he'd live to 125, so at 89 he was still late middle age. It was a great attitude. BTW, he made it to 91...not bad.

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  6. The roller coaster has been my "life metaphor" for a while now, especially so as I watched my mom decline in her last two years of life. "What a ride she had" I used to think, and like your granddaughter pointed out, I believe the final part was the most exciting for her. Brett and I feel like we're still cruising around on the top, but getting ready for our last exciting round of thrills.

    I still don't feel "old" and sometimes when I think about it am kind of amazed that I'm as old as I actually am (66). Time seems to go faster now, but I feel like there's still so much left to do. My roller coaster ride has been thrilling, with plenty of twists, turns and surprises, and I'm excited to see what's left to come.

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    1. Knowing your plans for the next year, I'd say you haven't even reached the top of the tracks yet.

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  7. I too am not far off from my 69th birthday but I have embraced the descriptor, “old”. In fact I’m rather proud of it. Old is not synonymous with decrepit, incompetent or non-contributory, or any of a great number of words that are sometimes attributed to those who have lived a long while but could equally well be used to describe some who are much younger. To be old signifies that I have lived longer, in some cases much longer, than some of my colleagues and friends; that I have lived long enough to see my children mature and to play with my grandchildren. Just as importantly, it identifies me as one who has had time to accumulate significant life experience; experience that is occasionally drawn upon by friends and family much younger than myself. I enjoyed being young; I appreciate being old.
    I also appreciate your insight into what constitutes a Satisfying Retirement. Your blog was especially helpful during the early months as I struggled to understand just what it meant to be retired.

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    1. Thanks, Ken. I'm glad the blog has been helpful.

      I like your overview and agree with what you say. The roller coaster may be heading downward, but my hands are in the air.

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  8. That is just hands down brilliant. Wow is all that I can say.

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  9. Love the analogy - hands in the air squealing with delight and no braking allowed

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    1. I am not a big roller coaster fan, but in this case I can see the power of the downhill run to excite, and even scream with joy!

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  10. Wonderful ... makes me wish I had a granddaughter!

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    1. Grandkids do add an entirely new dimension to life.

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  11. I have often thought of my life as climbing a series of peaks. I reach one summit, and there before me is another peak, not visible from lower down, waiting to be climbed. Before I retired, I fretted that there would be no more peaks to challenge me. It has turned out that is not true; there are always new challenges if one is looking for them.

    But your granddaughter’s comment throws a whole new light on it. When I am really out hiking up a mountain, getting to the top is only part of the hike. At the top you get a great view. As you descend, tired and happy, you get to see once again all the views, but this time looking down into the valley.

    What a great insight!

    Jude

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    1. Yes, it was. Hopefully I will always remember her words.

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