Category Archives: Aging

So What Can I Do?

eyeseeyouI have finally come to grips that I will not be a “mover and a shaker.”  The world, alas, is not clamoring for my opinions, my advice, my counsel, my pontifications.  The President and members of congress no longer call (man, could I give them an earful if they did!).  It has been some time since some anchor person contacted me to get my take on foreign or domestic events and developments.  Celebrities fail to call me for my thoughts on the directions their careers should take.  No one sends me scripts for potential movies or plays anymore.  Congress persists in passing bills without my input.

So what can I do to make the world a better place?  Jesus said we can do this by serving; by letting our light shine through our good works (Matthew 5:13,14).  Consider:

Think of your fellow man
lend him a helping hand
put a little love in your heart.
You see it’s getting late
oh please don’t hesitate
put a little love in your heart.
And the world will be a better place
and the world will be a better place
for you and me
you just wait and see.

–Jackie Deshannon

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Filed under Aging, Awareness, Change Agent, Christlikeness, Culture Wars, Discernment, discipleship, Edification, Encouragement, Friendship, Jesus Christ, Love, Music and Poetry, Poetry?, Selflessness, Uncategorized

The 10,000 Hour Rule

Among the things I wish I had learned before it was too late was the 10,000 hour rule.  Malcolm Gladwell’s amazing book, Outliers, was my first exposure to this principle.  Stated simply: If you want to become an expert in any given endeavor, it is necessary to involve yourself (study and practice) for a minimum of 10,000 hours.  You want to be a great musician?  Learn the basics of music and your instrument and then practice for 10,000 hours.  You want to be a great scientist?  Get the basics of your field and then research, experiment, collaborate, etc. for 10,000 hours.  Baker, butcher, chef, artist, salesperson, preacher, teacher, actor, you name it…after 10,000 hours of serious pursuit you will achieve expert status.  You can read more here.

My attention, sadly, has always been divided.  I have always had too many irons in the fire.  I have been too interested in too many things.  I see something that interests me and I think, “Hey, I can do that!”  Maybe so…but without the dedicated pursuit and practice…no achievement of expertise.  Now, I find myself at the “twilight years” able to converse about many things but not as a maven, guru, whiz-kid, ace, go-to-guy, virtuoso or hotshot.

I may come close in a couple of areas where I have some native ability, but it’s a bit too late to become a real expert.  What was needed was to find my passion of passions and then focus, focus and focus.  Hopefully, it is not too late for you.

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Filed under Aging, Biography, Book Reviews, Ignorance, Initiative, Life, Music, Preaching/Teaching, Science

Conversation in the Alley

I was driving down the alley when this old fellow (“old fellows” are, by definition older than me) opened his gate and his little dog ran between his legs right into my path.  I slammed on the brakes kicking up a cloud of dust.  A look of relief came over his face (the man’s) when he realized I had not flattened Rover.  The dog looked aged.  He was sprinkled with gray hairs in his coat and he was a little overweight.  I had come close to sending him to his doggy reward.  His owner grabbed him up, came around to the driver’s side and I rolled down the window to hear what he had to say.

“Oh thank you!” he said, his little dog safe in his arms.

“Sure glad I didn’t hit him,” said I.

“Me too!” he replied.  “You want some granite slabs?”

“Uh…granite slabs?” I asked, a little confused at the abrupt change of subject.

“Yep.  I’ve got eleven of ‘em,”

“Well, I don’t know…”

“Well, I’m puttin’ eleven of ‘em out here in the alley for anyone who wants them.”

“Okay, I’ll think about it.”

I slowly drove off, pondering the unlikely conversational combination of old men, old dogs and old granite slabs.

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Filed under Aging, Humor, Random Thoughts

LIFE CHOICES

Funny thing about the choices we make in life. Age, experience and hindsight make it so easy to see that some of them were the wrong choices. I have often wished I could have another go at life and, with the accumulated wisdom and experience I now have, plus a solid dependence upon the indwelling Holy Spirit, make different and better choices. Alas, such a thing is never to be. You and I will have to live with the choices we made and where they have brought us, regrets and all.

If, however, you are young enough to have a good deal of your life ahead of you, you might benefit from some fatherly advice about the choices you will be presented with.

  1. Choose your life’s work based on your talent and passion. God has given you certain abilities. Put them to work in your life. If you choose a career outside of your God-given aptitudes, you risk mediocrity. Passion will drive you to take your lumps, pay your dues and earn your stripes.
  2. Listen to your gut. Believe it or not, your gut knows more than your head. You can rationalize nearly anything but if your gut tells you it is wrong, believe it! Your choice may not be logical but gut feelings are not based on logic and reason. Your gut is much more fundamental. It is based on your whole being. This is not to say that you won’t make some decisions you regret but, for the most part, you will make better ones.
  3. Take the advice of others with a very large grain of salt. They are not you.  They have their own interests, beliefs, passions and agenda which they will happily transfer to (place upon) you. Don’t let others force you into their mold. Listen to them, talk to the Lord about it, but make your decision based on ability, aptitude and, once again, gut.
  4. Marry well. Marriage is a huge and, hopefully, permanent decision. Choose wisely the person you will live with for the rest of your life. Look below the surface (beauty, wealth, etc.) and find the “real person” (integrity, honesty, spirituality, etc.). Later on down the line if you make the wrong choice, you will be miserable. Think you will just divorce? Ask around, divorce is one of the most painful experiences you can go through, especially if children are involved. Become respectful, trusted friends before you marry.
  5. Seek fulfillment, not money. There are plenty of rich people who will confirm all the old sayings about money, love and happiness. To use your God-given abilities to the very best you can is the only true and lasting fulfillment.
  6. Get a clear and accurate understanding of success. When we say someone is “successful” we are usually referring to the money and material they have accumulated. That’s not success! Success is when you fulfill what God created you to be and do. Again, what is your talent? What are your abilities? Have you used them? If so, then you are successful no matter how much money you make.
  7. Be ready to be treated harshly and unfairly. Sorry, that’s the way life is. In the course of your life, you will encounter plenty of difficult and harsh situations. Even some people you have trusted will betray that trust. You will probably have your share of unfair bosses. You may be used, abused, walked on, gossiped and lied about. Don’t be surprised and remember, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
  8. Take joy! In between the difficult episodes, joys will fill the gap – if you let them.  Don’t miss out! Enjoy your spouse, enjoy your kids, enjoy your friends. Count your blessings and be grateful. Dance. Sing. Love.
  9. Cultivate mature friendships. True friends are a rare and valuable.  George Eliot said it so well: “Friendship reaches maturity when there is reciprocity, shared inner life, positive affection and equality.” The benefits of friendships are too numerous to mention. Men need men friends and women need woman friends. Speaking for us blokes, we need other guys who understand prostate difficulties and the many unique challenges of manhood.
  10. Be honestly, relentlessly introspective. If you are in a problem relationship (marriage, business partnership, friendship, team), recognize that in any relationship, the only person you can ultimately change is yourself.
  11. Be nice.  That means be polite, civil, respectful.  Love your neighbor and your enemies because it is the right thing to do and love covers a multitude of offenses.
  12. Don’t be a wimp.  Take chances. Try new things, new experiences (food, music, clothes, books, associations, techniques, strategies – you name it). Dare to fail because failure is the greatest teacher. Better to have tried and failed then not to have tried at all.
  13. On the other hand, don’t be stupid. Watch your money. Choose your friends wisely. Enter partnerships with your eyes wide open. Be loyal and faithful to your spouse. Practice personal purity. Look before you leap. Wear your safety gear.  Practice moderation. Remember what your mama said.
  14. Be part of a fellowship.  We were not meant to go through this life alone. We need God and each other. We need to be aware of each other’s problems, difficulties, trials and tribulations so we can comfort and encourage one another and pray for each other. When life batters you about, who you gonna call? Become part of a fellowship that worships, prays and sings together. If you don’t need others at the moment (I assure you that, in time, you will) they could certainly benefit from your strength.

Now is the time for you, dear reader to add to this list. Whether you are young or old, give us the benefit of your thinking. Between us, we can probably help our fellow-humans, young or old, to choose wisely and well.

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Filed under Adventure, Aging, Blessings, Discernment, Holy Spirit, Infidelity, Life, Love, Love and Marriage, Meaning of Life, Men's Issues, Religion, Suffering, Trust

Guilty


Thelma Luvenia “Lu” Whitsett is my recently widowed beloved mother.  She is a resident of Wisteria Place in Abilene.  She has a nice apartment in the assisted living section.  She is 89 years old and is known for her common sense coupled with an amazing sense of humor.  She is a former resident of Brownwood, Texas and lived most of her married life in the oilfield.  Here is her response to the gulf oil spill.

Who is guilty?  Not I – ha!

I want my comforts – all the things that oil money can purchase.  How about you?  Are you willing to give up some of your luxuries?

BP and all those other oil magnates only respond to the markets we create.

What about those unsightly wind turbines cluttering up acre after acre of hills and dales?

There are numerous examples but my point is that we cause many of our problems because of our excessive desire for “things.”

Can this terrible situation teach us anything?  Maybe so – I hope.

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Filed under Aging, Culture Wars, Current Events, Hypocrisy, Oil Business (All Bidness)

Live Your Adventure

High adventure was on my young index of dreams.  As it turns out, my adventures have been mild ones.  I never did become an explorer, sailor, naturalist, anthropologist, spelunker, diver, paleontologist, prospector, or performer.  As a young boy I avidly read about the adventures of men like Thor Heyerdahl and William Beebe.  Beebe was an ornithologist, explorer, and author.  He was an early ecologist.  He made a record-breaking dive in a bathysphere to a depth of 3,028 ft in 1934.  He lived the adventures of my dreams.

Recently, I ran across a piece written by him in his old age.  It’s good advice for all adventurers, young and old.

What I Would Do
Will Beebe

If I were as young in years again as I still am inside,
I should make me a list of a few things to do before I die:

To go at least once clear around this jolly world.

To live with savages and in jungles now and then
and learn how splendid they are.

To ride and read and shoot and play and study and think
and be silent with such enthusiasm that every moment
of unnecessary sleep would be a crime.

To live so fully that most people would seem dead on their feet.

To own a magnificent telescope and by frequent use never
to forget the humor of my size and place and ambitions in the universe.

Finally, do the things all over again, for I have
done them and am still at it, and I know.

For just this once I have broken my motto of “Don’t tell.”
And now forget everything that I have said and live your own life.

As it turns out, I have lived my own life.  As a 25 year-old missionary and married with children, I concentrated on being a good husband, father and evangelist but never stopped dreaming.  Those later dreams were milder ones: farmer, woodcarver (a skilled one), preacher (an effective one), teacher (a beneficial one) and writer (a successful one).  In small, insignificant ways I have dabbled in the later dreams and found much satisfaction.

I find I no longer aspire to fame or celebrity status — having seen the emptiness of those pursuits. Besides that, I’m getting a bit “long in the tooth,” whatever that means.

Aside from some major life challenges, I am satisfied with my little shop where I carve wood, my vegetable garden (the farming part) teaching and mentoring aspiring missionaries, working with ministry training schools in the South Pacific (and soon, hopefully Asia), and writing blogs and books.  The adventure continues.

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Filed under Adventure, Aging, Blogs & Blogging, Life, Meaning of Life, Philosophy, Science, Writing

Thoughts on Turning Sixty-Eight

For the past few weeks I have been teaching a Bible class for older folks.  I don’t believe there is anyone in the class under 65 or so.  Since, in a few days I will be the ripe old age of 68, I feel right at home.  At the moment, we are working our way through Leviticus, one of those seldom-studied books.  It’s full of instructions for all kinds of offerings enabling a holy God to live among a very unholy people.  A lot could be said about that but, at the moment, I am thinking more about age than holiness.

Old age is, among other things, interesting.  For one thing, sitting still, I don’t feel old.  It is only when I get up and try to move around quickly that my body reminds me that it has seen better days.  I wake up in the morning with plans to accomplish the same things I did at, say, forty.  As the day progresses, reality sets in: I’m nowhere near the capabilities of forty.  It is disappointing.  Still, I keep at it as best I can.

One of my older-than-me friends tells me there are perks that come along with age.  People want to help you.  They open doors for you and ask if you need a hand.  Young women smile at you and don’t consider you a threat.  You get senior discounts.  That’s all I can think of right now.  I think, however, I would trade these “perks” for more “pep.”  Yes, I would trade it all for pain-free hips, knees, a well-behaved back, and being considered more dangerous in the eyes of young women.

The ranks of the “older folks” are bursting at the seams.  The solvency of Social Security and Medicare systems are threatened.  I notice more and more advertisements aimed our way.  Care facilities for older folks (skilled nursing, assisted living, etc.) are popping up everywhere.  Movies are being made about old codgers and biddies (good news for our aging actors).  I’m glad I don’t have to go through this “aging process” alone.

So how should you young folks respond to all this?  Well, Leviticus provides a good answer.  “You shall rise before the gray-headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:32).  OK, I know it’s the Old Testament and the Law of Moses and all that but I still think it’s a good idea.

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Filed under Aging, honor, Humor, Meaning of Life, Men's Issues, Nursing Home, Respect, Thinking, Whitsett News