Thoughts on Turning Sixty-Seven

old-man1I entered my 68th year last month. My 91-year-old father might disagree but I guess I am now “old.” I find old age fascinating on several levels. It is, for example, in old age that you wish you had taken better care of your young self. The aches, pains and other afflictions are not pleasant. To realize that you have been categorized as “old” is not particularly good for the ego. Neither is the realization that you are no longer (if you really ever were) attractive to young women. These days, if they smile approvingly at you, it is because you remind them of a loved and respected father, grandfather or great-uncle (get that straight and it will help keep you out of a lot of trouble and embarrassment!).

These are the routine parts of old manhood. But, what I am writing about is something rather unexpected. It is the insight I’ve gained because

I have lived long enough,

read enough books,

encountered enough problems,

misunderstood enough,

experienced enough reversals of fortune,

loved enough people,

lived through enough crises,

eaten enough crow,

had enough experiences – positive and negative…

…to realize the arrogance of my youth. Not necessarily an obvious, exterior, obnoxious, puffed-up know-it-all arrogance. But rather that which rises out of misplaced self-confidence, academic knowledge and an assurance that one has found authentic truth.

I was thinking today about an encounter I had back in the late seventies with a man who held an opinion (more of a belief) that I considered downright wrong…maybe even ungodly. I thought, how can he believe that when Scripture says this? I knew the experiences that influenced his opinion, but I also knew what the Scripture said. Now, at a comparable age with my own collection of experiences, I see what he was saying and why.

In my dotage I find myself considering, accommodating, tolerating and investigating ideas I would have rejected out-of-hand in my youth. I find myself believing things I never would have contemplated in my younger years. Now, older, sadder and wiser, I shudder at past positions taken, claims made, assurances given, defenses offered and explanations proffered. Today I am finally ready to reason more than react. Arrogance has been consumed by humiliation.

In our culture, older people tend to be marginalized and that’s a shameful waste. We are considered out-of-touch, hopelessly behind the learning curve and set in our ways. And, that sad assessment may be true for some of us. But I find myself more curious, more open-minded, more tolerant and receptive to new ideas than my youthful self.

Why did I have to get old to get reasonable? How much more productive and peaceful life would have been if wisdom did not depend on experience! Could I please try it again and this time with what I’ve learned? Oh the joyful thought of youthful living guided by age’s wisdom!

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8 Comments

Filed under Health Care, Ignorance, Love, Meaning of Life, Men's Issues, Mind, Peace, Random Thoughts, Respect, Scripture, Whitsett News

8 responses to “Thoughts on Turning Sixty-Seven

  1. Thanks for sharing your reflections, Dwight. May God help us all to age with such grace and dignity. May we all also continue to labor in the kingdom with such vigor.

    God bless,
    Bill

  2. Very well said, brother! I intend to refer gracEmail subscribers to this column in my next “family notes.” Cordially, Edward

  3. mercyshower

    Just for the record…you are one of the most attractive “old” men I know! Hope that’s not awkward for you…because what I mean is: your love for Christ and His Light in you shine brightly, and that is very attractive! I remember you trying to explain something similar to my AIM class when we were going over evangelism. I’m glad that God makes us go through trials and hardships when we are younger. It prepares us, makes us ready for the things that really ARE tough! Thanks for admiting that you love being older…I think that’s the way we all should be. Alex and I enjoy where we are for the most part in life, but we are both exciting for what “old age” will bring and where we will be at that time! Love to you and Brenda!

  4. Thank You Dwight! Thank you for sharing your heart with all of us. I think back to out dinner during the workshop when I witnessed the qualities that you described first hand.
    I am thankful for men (and women) like you who grow and wisdom and stature in the eyes of God and men no matter what number is attached to their age. You may be “old” in your estimation, but I see you as someone with a young nubile mind, and a circumcised heart.
    I am proud to call you my brother!
    jb

  5. dwhitsett

    Mercyshower, Thanks! Bring on the awkward! It is nice to be thought of as attractive whatever the reason. Alex is a very blessed man to have you. May God’s blessings and mercy rest upon you and surround you as you begin a life together and grow old together. Don’t let anyone or anything get in the way…when you say those vows, mean them from the heart.

  6. dwhitsett

    Johnny, thank you so much for your kind comments. I was very moved! You are a remarkable brother and I know God will use you and your talents to serve Him in significant ways.

  7. Bob Harsh

    Dwight,
    You hit the nail on the head. I am 62 and am experiencing all that you wrote.
    It would be interesting to travel back in time and try to give myself [as a younger man]some good advice. I wonder if I would have taken that wise advice, even knowing it to be from myself, only with the wisdom born of experience.
    I have found that I really am better off living through some of the tough times of life. God really does know best. If we are protected from the hardship of life we are helpless when faced with the hardest times.
    God bless Bob Harsh

  8. Terry

    Hey Dwight. when I met you back in ’72 that’s 1972 I didn’t consider you as a “know it all” and I’ve respected your thoughts and opinions ever since. (even though I might not agree with all them.) You always listened.
    I’m 62 this year and I will age but I’ll never grow old and your attitude tells me that you won’t either.
    Say Hi to Brenda for me.

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