Recently, we watched a three part series on Netflix-- [Five Came Back]. Take the time to watch it as it was excellent. Yes, it has some brutal segments about WWII (if you want to think Nazis were okay you definitely need to watch the Holocaust photos). It reminded me how much each generation is influenced by the time in which it has grown up. The archival film is of five successful directors of that time and not only their participation in the war but also what they brought back from it in terms of the films they then made.
Born in WWII, I know it impacted my life in a ton of ways-- not only by it but the aftermath for what people learned from it. Because my family had gone through the Great Depression, and talked about it, it also was a factor in what I was taught growing up. This is one of the benefits of reaching old age-- we've seen a lot.
Along with aging's reality of loss and deterioration (biology-wise), there are benefits that I don't think many consider. In the United States, sadly the emphasis seems to be holding onto youth. What about considering the benefits of a long lifespan? Why do so many demean old age?
In some primitive cultures, the old are revered. They are the ones who remember the dry seasons, what might matter when the herds travel another route, diseases that came through and proved devastating.
Do we really believe that a seventeen year old today knows more than someone who has lived seventy years? Can life wisdom be valued instead of demeaned as so often happens with the elderly thought of as being selfish or senile? Could it be that having seen so many cultural shifts, the old have something to share with the young? This will only happen if the old value what they have experienced.
Culturally, we, at least in my generation, have lived through a lot of changes. I was born when communication was newspapers, mail, radio, movies, and party-line telephone. News was gathered from limited sources and mostly we knew our own community and family for sure-- if that. Living through a time like that puts a unique perspective on a time like ours where news is from so many sources that many end up victims of ADD (attention deficit disorder). Today, we are bombarded by info-- or what defines itself as such.
Family expectations have changed in my 70+ years. I grew up when children were expected to be polite, where the world didn't revolve around them, where adults talked and children listened-- or went off to play. The idea of coming to a time where profanity is praised and someone who is nasty is admired is beyond me to imagine from the perspective of my own youth. Being old means I remember when nasty was not a virtue but a problem.
In my childhood, we were allowed to be a child and adulthood was something to be worked toward and hopefully achieved. Responsibility was taught through chores and sometimes rewarded by an allowance. I don't know if that still exists but I do know receiving a small amount of money for doing a job teaches responsibility. Not having much money teaches the value of making responsible choices.
Another plus of being a child in an earlier era is we were allowed freedoms that today are criticized by some as they call such to be free range kids. We all were back then.
Examples: I was able to run over open fields, go into the brush and lie there as
I stared up at the sky. I read books sitting in a big cherry tree, ran to a rock wall to escape a sheep that wanted to butt me. I had my first rifle at 12 because I asked for it as my Christmas present, because I'd seen our sheep with their sides ripped out by dogs and wanted to protect them.
One year, my father, brother and I went to a mountain stream. While they fished, I waded down that stream by myself, climbing over logs, finding spider webs everywhere and finally overcoming my fear of breaking through them. Although I was far from any hope of my parent rescuing me if something went wrong, I relished the freedom. When I wanted to learn to swim, it was on a river and I did it staying in the shallows until I could
feel confident I could swim across. When I did it the first time though, my father swam alongside me. The only time I ever saw him swim. From then on I could do it by myself. The memories of those times and reaching the rocks on the other side, they are always with me as are so many others from those years.
I am not saying children today couldn't experience such things. Some do... Just not as many as back then.
As an old person, I have seen societal changes. Nothing lasts forever is something the old understand better than the young. Having seen a lot of mistakes and successes, I don't think I know it all-- even if I am confident I know a lot.
Less is expected of me as an old woman. That's freeing. We can do what
pleases us more than in those earlier years. When we opt to take on challenges, it's our choice. When some of those challenges lead to failures, we can still feel excited-- like who knew we could do something like that in our 70s. At one time, being old meant moving in with the kids, to an Old Folks Home, or after Social Security, retired. Now it means anything goes-- at least that our bodies allow.
A few years back, I took some time to write my core beliefs. Recently, I came across them and looked them over. I wouldn't add to the list. Have you written down your core beliefs? The things on which you stand? I put them in a blog where I archived some of my earlier blogs (there was a blog before this one). If you're interested, they are at [Age Old Beauty].
That's another thing I believe-- that like fine wines or old roses, there is a beauty in old age. It's not the same as youthful beauty but it has a worn patina to it that I consider it's own beauty. If we don't do plastic surgery, our life shows on our face-- the good parts and the painful ones.
The birds are all from observations at our Tucson home. We had to add the fence for when the cats are out as they regard the fountain as a 'moveable feast.' Watching birds is one of the joys that is possible at any age. I love how they migrate, how they instinctively know when to go and where. Life is really something.