“Age is rarely kind to anyone. Nothing one can do about it. One just has to get on with it.”
~“The Crown,” Netflix
The scene as Queen Elizabeth looking at a postage stamp with her image on it. She is an older Queen and looks at it and makes this remark.
But it’s true, not just simply about appearance but our ability to navigate in the world
Where once we could pull all-nighters, now we must nap.
Where once we would never capitulate, now it is our first choice, our will weakened.
We sleep like babies, making every few hours to relieve ourselves.
We start to notice the stories about people dying and noticing that our agent theirs are only a few years apart . . . Or that they are younger by only a few years.
We start to wonder what people will say about us or if they will have anything to say about us when we are gone.
Certainly, professionally, we have seen countless people leave our firms and within a short time, people will stop knowing who they are, the stories about them will cease and they will wither away into oblivion.
Our use of her time is meaningful, if not just to ourselves but to others.
We can become old or Elder.
What is an Elder?
In US culture, when people become older, they are referred to as, “elderly.” The association we have with elderly people is that they are old, infirm, physically limited, and perhaps with mental deprecation.
That’s not what an Elder is.
I capitalize the word rather than leave it in lowercase because it’s a position of respect. In tribal cultures, often they were the individuals who first showed gray in their hair and, by having achieved a certain age when so many didn’t, were considered experienced otherwise and able to lead the tribe.
Except for US presidents, when people show gray in US culture, they are judged as being useless, put out to pasture, and otherwise ignored.
Notice the phrase, “put out to pasture.” In animals put out to pasture to graze comfortably. They are no longer expected to work. They are allowed to become sedentary, like pets without a purpose.
For those of us who are older, it is important to have that purpose and meaning. Usually, if we aspire to Eldership, it comes in a relationship with others and our willingness to share what we have learned with them rather than hoard it like a precious jewel.
But after we share our opinions, accepting that it is their choice to decide to accept our ideas. That nonattachment to outcome is important in the role that we play.
Professionally and personally, time runs out for all of us. Sometimes we know when that will happen. Almost always, we lament that is happening too soon.
How do you want to live between now and that inevitable conclusion?
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2021
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2000 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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