Bettye Johnson and Getting Old
I read the recent article about Bettye Johnson's first novel, "Secrets of the Magdalene Scrolls." So what's new about a first time novelist? Well, she's 90! Yes, ninety years old. I haven't read the book, and I likely will buy and read it soon. I was just enamored about how we put old people in places to just live out their lives. It's long been proven that the body and mind are still active throughout one's life, it just isn't a fast or quick when we're old, but the brain continues to change, learn, and grow. It only dies if you let it, and that happens at any age.
She is clearly one in a long line of people who have shown getting old is simply that, but it's not growing old in the sense of losing your ability to be a human being, to be alive and to share your life with the world. This also shown by Daniel Schorr, the renown journalist, who celebrated his 90th birthday and still contributes news and opinion to the news shows. I enjoy listening to his views from his 70 years of experience in the news. That's 1936 to now. Think about that much experience in one person's eyes and mind.
A few years go I listened to an interview with a 88 year old man who was graduating from a Florida university with his 11th Bachelors degree, his fifth in a foreign language. He said he retired and decided to become a lifelong student, using his basic credits to get as many degrees as he can to learn and be around young people. He said he was always listening to the latest music, saying he didn't always like what he heard but it was the newness that made him feel alive, to find new music to like.
What do these people and other elderly people have in common in their advise when aging? If you notice most have a positive view of life and their circumstances. It's obvious they've been lucky with their health to be physically able, but the reality is they have kept the thinking alive and learning. And how many people forget to do that as they age? I saw in my parents, and especially my Dad, who after he retired, puttered his life into nothingness and quit altogether at the age of 75.
How many of us decide, when faced with a situation where we have to learn something, we just don't have to learn? We're adults and we've spent a lifetime learning in school, our jobs, and our lives, and we get to the point that we say, "Enough is enough." We demand the world do something for us because we expect it. I don't recall seeing that in the fine print in our contract of life.
Let me see, I'm reading my contract with God on my life. Hmmm... It says, "The responsbility to keep learning belongs with the individual. Nothing is given and everything is learned. If you decide not to learn, then we invoke the right to remove you from society by various means at our disposal, namely your health. We have the whole array of illnesses, diseases, and other means, like accidents, to revoke you right to exist."
Ok, I'll learn. I may do some begrudgingly and angrily, but I'll get there.
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