Weekly Thought – May 14, 2019
Fred finished well just two weeks before his 92nd birthday. He thought much about aging and created a strategy for navigating the process. He wrote an article for Leadership Journal with the title “Older, but Never Old.” He lived out those words, for sure.
My serious interest in aging began with Erik Erikson’s remark: “The challenge of old age is the management of deterioration. Applying the art of management gives one control over the process.” In other words, move the deterioration toward the perimeter of life and focus on the areas of strength and vitality. Avoid the used-to-be syndrome. Too many of my friends refuse to analyze their current strengths, but continue living with the past glories. As I became bedbound I knew my traveling was eliminated. But I still had my mental faculties and my voice, so my daughter arranged for weekly events for people who sat around my bed and listened to me discuss what I had been thinking about during my three dialysis sessions each week. It became affectionately known as “Fred in the Bed.” It was a management technique.
Part of the monitoring of successful aging is asking questions. For me, I break the questions into two categories: positive and negative. Of course, these are designed for my own personality, temperament, character, and temptations. For illustration, I list some of the questions I ask myself:
Love: Where do I fall on the loving scale? How do I avoid benevolent dictatorship?
Patience: How patient am I? Do I accept the difference between excellence and perfection?
Tolerance: Am I Biblically tolerant? Do I know the difference between love and apathy?
Unselfishness: How unselfish am I? How do I implement “in honor preferring one another?”
Commitment: What is my level of commitment to work, family, faith? Am I capable of having passion without crossing over into obsession?
Flexibility: Can I develop a technique without sacrificing stability and principle?
Control: How often do I camouflage this tendency? Do I exhibit dictatorial or victim behavior?
Cynicism: Do I discount the current reality by wanting things to stay the same to make me comfortable?
Greed: Is my desire an appetite or a fire? Do I remember a fire is never satisfied?
Selfishness: How often do I see others as serving me rather than an opportunity to serve?
Concretized: How realistic am I about change?
When I do my self-audit I ask another person for counsel and accountability. This person must be chosen carefully. I am not looking for a critic; I am looking for a coach.
This week carefully consider: 1) What is my strategy for aging? 2) Who models successful aging? 3) What questions should be I be asking myself?
Words of Wisdom: “The end of the process is successful aging – staying young while getting older.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man who had lived a full life. “ (Genesis 25:8a NET Bible)