Old age and retirement are often characterized as “being put out to pasture.” And while a cow probably likes an old age among the grasses and flowers, people tend to stagnate.  For example, one “elderly person said, ‘You see that piece of furniture over there? I’m like a piece of furniture.’ … Far from being glorified ottomans who send Christmas cards to their grandkids and burden their families financially, the elderly could use the free time of retirement to share their wisdom with the community at large and ultimately help change the world for the better” (Mackie, 2007).

I find this suggestion to be thought provoking on several levels.

Level one: I have a friend who, now retired from a career as a CFO, set up a small business to help other small business get started and running. He basically offers a combined accounting service plus business and financial advice. This is just part time and his fees are outrageously modest. He turns clients away to preserve his free time. This is a great example of keeping occupied in a meaningful way and sharing one’s lifetime of experience and knowledge.

Level two: My father, when at 80 he lost the ability to fix watches due to a stroke that deprived him of the use of a hand, took on a friend as an apprentice and shared his knowledge of watch repair. However, even though he almost naturally fell into this role of being a teacher, he was bitter and frustrated by his lost dexterity for the remainder of his life.

This is the quandary here. It is easy to say “let the elders of the tribe share their wisdom.” It is harder sometimes to transcend the other consequences of aging that leave us reduced in physical and mental facilities. It is this sort of quandary that makes me wonder about somehow stopping aging. Isn’t there a cream or something that will stop aging? I know I’ve seen those ads for it.

Anyhow, stopping the process of aging may be beyond medicine. Aging may be an unavoidable part of life. This final quote really got me thinking, “Instead [of prolonging life], the problem is the hubris inherent in the quest. People age for a reason, whether or not we understand that reason just yet.” (Gordon, 2009).


Gordon, Bennett. Why People Age, and Why We Should. UTNE Reader, June 15, 2009. http://www.utne.com/Science-Technology/Why-People-Age-and-Why-We-Should.aspx

Mackie, Brendan. The Honor and Toil of Growing Old. UTNE Reader, October 4, 2007. http://www.utne.com/2007-10-01/The-Honor-and-Toil-of-Growing-Old.aspx