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Friday, April 30, 2010

Reclaiming "Old"

"Old"! What a wonderful and contradictory word.

In most meanings it is different from aging. In fact it is generally a category all by itself separate from aging and the nearness of death. Isn't the thing we like most about old things is their ageless character? We are drawn to old tools, towns, whiskey, paintings, jewelry, hats and cars exactly because they seem timeless, the opposite of death. With old things we get comfort and sweet memories. And old can be visible condition not necessarily dependent on years. We have children who are sometimes called "old souls" with wise character and vitality. In this context having the quality of "oldness" is positive, nurturing, and includes a richness.

"Old" only seems to be negative when we attach it to people of age. It has come to mean everything that is not youthful, "hip", or modern. Other meanings we attach to the term include hateful, cruel, mean, controlling and you can add your own. And we congratulate old men and women only when they look or act young.

Earlier this week I had lunch with my friend, mentor and fellow blogger Jenny Sasser and we were discussing this phenomena. Jenny wants to reclaim the word "old", as applied to people of age, from the trash heap and put it in its rightful place alongside all things old. I signed on with her!

Don't be afraid to use the word and to hold people of age in higher regard because they have achieved character and a sense of richness that only years on the planet can deliver. They are also valuable social images of oldness which we need to balance the supposed deity of youth.

Embrace the "old" in everyone, especially yourself!

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