The Wisdom of Elders; Why it is Important to Have a Team of Elders in Your Circle

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Image source: kaptur.house.gov

BY: SIMONE JENNIFER SMITH

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was*?” Satchel Paige (1906-1982)

When I was younger, of course I thought I knew everything. I was raised with my grandmother, so I always remember her sprouting out words of wisdom. I also remember me ignoring them and just dismissing her as an old person. As I have gotten older, I now see how important these words of wisdom were, and I wish I had her back to say them again. They would have so much meaning because I have just begun to live life; to truly understand that experience is everything.

I attended an event honouring the great Mr. Jane and Finch himself, Winston LaRose on Friday, December 1st, 2017. He had just turned 80 years old, and the community was out celebrating this great man who had done so much in his time here. I was of course impressed by the work that was put into the event. Brand EQ had done a great time gathering, and had all of Winston’s friends, coworkers, and community leaders together. As he spoke, one thing that crossed my mind was that he had lived such a meaningful and successful life. I made sure to tune my ears and listen to what he had to say. I want to share what I have learned from elders in my past, and also what I heard repeated by a man of success who had made it to his 80’s and was young enough to Salsa dance with a woman half his age with such energy and life. “Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

Edward Stanley (1826-1893)

One thing that I have learned is prevention is better than cure. Seeing Winston dancing on Friday showed me that living a healthy balanced life is the way to go. We are in an age of consumption, and not everything we are consuming is good for us. What makes things worse is that we do not balance it out in a healthy way. Then you add stress to that….. Well as you can imagine, it is the reason why heart disease is on the rise. We have to take better care of ourselves now, so we don’t feel it later. “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan (1921-2006)

The moment you start looking at yourself as old, you become old. If you see life for what it is; opportunity to live more fully, and gratefulness for the fact that you still have strength, this is what allows you to age well. Many of the elders that I speak of shun the idea of retirement. They have found what they love to do, and it has become a meaningful part of their lives. Due to this, retirement is not even seen as an option. No longer look at the age of 65 as the age to retire, but as an age to inspire. “We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.” – Australian Aboriginal saying.

As you get older, you realize that life is what it is. We are just visitors here, and when speaking with elders, they stress this. We are here to observe life, grow from our mistakes, and to love completely and fully. When we are gone, we cannot do this anymore, so take advantage. The more you know, the less you need. -Australian Aboriginal saying.

All the material things that we work so hard in our younger years for mean nothing in the future. They become just stuff; things collected. “We cannot take it to the grave,” my dad always says.

Have a group of elders around you to keep you humble, and to keep you focused. Let us not forget that they have experienced what we have twenty times over.

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