Being an avid collector of pithy sayings I was pleased to hear one last week which tickled me somewhat. It was during a rather bizarre interview with Len Goodman, judge on Strictly Come Dancing, during the lunch interval of the Ashes Test at Lords and he casually dropped into the conversation:
· “The older we get, the better it used to be”
I thought it gently amusing until I got serious and began to look at it in rather more detail. What it says, of course, is that the old days were better and everything has gone downhill ever since. What is more, as we age, the pull of the old days becomes even more appealing.
That has been a recurring theme probably since the beginnings of time and it is about as useful as anything else relating to the “good old days”.
I suppose that one of the problems of ageing is that in many cases the outlook becomes limited and encompassed by reduced mobility and lack of normal contact with the outside world plus an increasing resistance and dislike of change.
I know that if I am in the company of people of my generation it is fatal to ask anyone “How are you?” because one is likely to have a full recital of the current medical condition with a complete rundown of the medication involved including all the side effects.
As we age, by definition our experience increases and really ought to be transformed into expertise in some manner so that it can be used and exploited (n the nicest possible way).
Older people have great opportunities to use and give of their experience (without being dogmatic or laying down the law) and to offer it to any community which would value it.
Volunteering is a great way to give something back to any community such as a charity and retired business people have a lot to offer in this respect.
The fact is, of course, that the old days were not necessarily good but it is pleasant to look back and remember, albeit inaccurately, that all the summers were sunny and hot, and that the winters gave us enough snow for perpetual sledging.
If we are truly honest about the past we would accept that our standard of living was far lower than it is today even if the way we lived then was simpler and less frantic.
Naturally as we age there is likely to be more to look back at than there is to look forward to, but heaven preserve us from those who march bravely backwards into the future with their eyes fixed firmly on the past while wearing rose-coloured spectacles.
The fact that we are becoming more mature should never prevent us from looking forward positively into the future because that is where we are all going. The past is immutable and we can learn from it. The present is where we are and we should give thanks for being there, and for the ability to plan for the future irrespective of how long that will be.
Things were not necessarily better in the past but they were certainly different and the way in which we live these days is dramatically different from the time “when I were a lad”.
I reckon times are pretty good these days and we should be constantly grateful for the chance to experience all the advantages of life in the 21st century. Whatever - it’s a lot better than the alternative.
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