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A Wise Old Dude Wonders, Is Growing Old Inspiring?

Guideposts Editor-in-Chief Edward Grinnan talks about the positive side of aging.

“So,” the man sitting across from me at a banquet table said, who was on the eve of turning 40, “given your experience, what wisdom can you give me about life from your perspective?”

I knew what he was implying: that I was some kind of sage by virtue of my advanced years. In other words, I was old.

There was a time when men craved to reach that point in life where they were considered wise men, elder statesmen. But in our strange, youth-obsessed culture of narcissism, growing old is a curse. Worse, it’s a kind of embarrassment.

Boomer that I am, I am not immune to this craziness. Besides, I was always the youngest. The youngest of my four siblings for sure, especially after my next older sibling died when I was nine. But also the youngest of my generation within my extended family: the youngest cousin, the youngest nephew, the youngest grandchild. 

I started school early so I was always the youngest (and smallest) in my class or on a team. When I won an important writing award in college I was the youngest to ever win it. Years later when I became editor-in-chief of Guideposts I was the youngest one of them too, and younger than the senior staff. So I’m used to being young. I don’t die my hair, rarely lie about my age and am in reasonably good shape (though I did put on 16 pounds writing my book The Promise of Hope that I am still trying to work off). 

I didn’t know how to react to an almost-40-year-old man treating me like his grandpa. Should I have cupped my hand to my ear and shouted, “Eh?”

No, I thought. This is an interesting moment in my life. I am, in fact, in the older side of middle age. No doubt about it. And I have lived through a lot. It’s an honor to be asked what I have learned. There are so many people who would appreciate being asked that question and here I was, worried that I was being treated as if I was on my way to the nursing home.

Silly, ungrateful, that’s what I was being. And dumb.

This yearning for eternal youth that infects my generation is insipid and an insult to God, who has created this continuum of life. Who are we to defy it, to resist nature?

My golden years are on the horizon. More and more people may think that I am some kind of wise old dude. Sooner or later, I might be.

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