When I was in sixth grade my friend Victoria and I walked home from the bus stop together. Sometimes we would find my neighbor’s mother out on their front porch. At the time, we thought she was quite old. Looking back, I suspect she was in her eighties. We would stop and talk with her about things that we weren’t necessarily interested in, like baseball. Somehow it didn’t matter, we just liked talking to her. She made everything sound interesting, and I remember those visits fondly to this day.
I’ve always enjoyed spending time with seniors. I even recently offered lessons at my local senior center to help teach them how to use their smart phones. It was a rewarding challenge, and I learned from them too. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from my elders, the one I want to share with you, is that anyone can change at any age. There is no law, rule, commandment, or ordinance that limits us from changing our minds, hobbies, habits, or perspectives upon reaching an AARP-eligible age.
I recently read a fabulous novel, The Secret Life of Hendrick Groen, 83¼ Years Old by Hendrik Groen and Hester Velmans. It was touching and at times hilarious. It was a delightful story of a pensioner living in a Netherlands retirement home who wants more out of life. His life is replete with constraints: his age, the retirement house rules, and the constraints life places on him and his friends. And yet at 83¼ Hendrik makes changes.
One of the subtlest yet most impactful changes Henrick makes is increasing his own resiliency. He meets each challenge he faces with greater grace and a more positive perspective. He didn’t set out to do that, but by taking on small changes and learning new ways to respond to unexpected changes, his appreciation for and acceptance of life grew. Who among us couldn’t use a little more of that? And I suspect you, like me, are a bit younger than 83¼-years-old.