Paths in Life
by Ken Langenbrunner
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Ramblings of an Old Man: Paths in Life
As a young person attempts to find and navigate their path through life, to find where they fit in, so does an older person. There’s an irony in the paralleled situation between the young and old. Our elders, many times, are struggling as well to “fit in” with society with what abilities they are left with, as aging slowly, methodically deprives us of our once capable physical and mental abilities that were displayed in our body, mind, and spirit.
When you look into a mirror, what reflection do you perceive? When I look, I wonder who that old man is living in my mirror! That’s not the face I remember growing up with! Most people want to be a contributing member of society, and when we no longer are able to be that vibrate contributor anymore, then we start to question our status and our usefulness. Not everyone is able to handle retirement. Many were such workaholics that they had little, if any, personal life; they had no hobbies, no other outlets to groom them for the later years of life, and because of that not many make it very far into retirement before death takes them.
Young people just can’t wait to grow up and get out into the world, whereas, many of the elderly are so discouraged at their lack of certain abilities, that they just give up and live the remaining years as couch potatoes, or just attempt to survive the best they can, till death comes to claim them. When I was younger, and had some land of my own, I remember going to several farm actions, and having the opportunity to browse around, before the auction started, at some of the old mechanisms of old farming days, and inevitably there would be an old farmer or two, standing around explaining how a certain piece of equipment would work, and sometimes how more efficient it was then the newer models!
Yes, there are many, many things we can learn from our older generations, if only we would take the time to stop and ask questions, or just take time to socialize with them and take notice of their intricate part of our being here in the first place! How many of us, or should I say how few of us, even know what type of work our grandparents did, or were they in the service, and if so what branch? Do we even know who our neighbors are? Do we not converse with them because they are…”older people”? Some times just one kind gesture or word is all that’s needed by someone that may be lonely or feeling unwanted and useless. One word, one sign of recognition, just may open up a whole new world of past history or knowledge that you may find fascinating beyond belief.
My parents and grandparents are gone now, and I can no longer ask questions that arise during my brain storming thoughts concerning my past and how things use to be. I’m left with boxes full of pictures, mostly unmarked, unnamed faces that now I will never know their relationship, or their place in my personal history. Maybe they were just a very good friend or neighbor of the family that was always there when we needed them. That’s how it was in days gone by. Now, in some areas, we are fearful to even go out the door for a walk.
When we lost grandma, the core of the family was gone. The yearly family reunions faded into the past, and soon relatives drifted apart into their own paths of life. Too many new fangled contraptions to distract us from caring about our own, and soon you could walk through a mall, or down the street, past a cousin or niece, or nephew and not even recognize each other. The layers of the onion soon peel away, your parents are the next to go, and it is only you left. You are the “older” generation now, and you are soon being treated the same way as you treated your elders when you were young! What goes around comes around, and the paths in life become repeated history.
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