10 Interesting Things That Get Better With Age
It has been a while since I wrote something for you. I guess you could say I have been away on sabbatical leave 😉 . Taking a step back, I have had the wonderful privilege of getting the initiative to gain new perspectives, meet new people and explore fresh ideas.
I hope to share some of those with you in this blog post.
Today, I’ll be discussing something a lot of people may find unusual in the sense that they might ask – “Can as many as 10 things get better with age? After all, almost everyone wants to stay forever young.” Oh yes, and probably much more!
It boils down to careful consideration and being flexible enough to take on a fresh outlook of the world. A lot of old folks speak of their youthful days ruefully, mostly due to lost opportunities, wrong decisions and missed chances; this disposition usually makes a lot of young people see growing old as an unpleasant thing.
Once again, it is a matter of perspectives. And without much ado, I’ll dive right into this discourse.
1. Appreciation of what is truly valuable
One key thing that comes with getting old is your wealth of experience. Naturally, the older you grow, the more you know because you would have gotten more exposure and seen more instances of what pays over time.
Asides craving for more psychosocial needs as you age, an older person will be in a better position to weigh, judge and evaluate things that remain valuable in the long run.
Where I come from, there is a popular saying – “What an elder sees while sitting, a young fellow cannot get wind of it even if he tries to get a sight of it from the top of a tree.”
Now, I do not seek to espouse any idea relating to an elder’s infallibility. They are humans too and as a result, are quite fallible. But in a lot of matters, especially when it comes to social interaction, being older gives one the better chance of discerning true values as opposed to superficial value.
Trust me, if indeed it is true that time will tell, then those who have spent more time should certainly have more access to what time has said.
2. Sense of responsibility
It is interesting to see that society generally accepts that one needs to be of a certain age before one takes on certain tasks or have access to certain privileges.
Some of such things include having a family and eventually becoming a parent (being responsible for another human being’s success!), holding a job and holding certain positions (political or otherwise) in our society.
For instance, a father has an expanded vision – he doesn’t just want to be the best professional in what he does, he wants to be good enough to inspire his family to work hard while he earns enough to make them have a comfortable life. His experience and obligation expand his vision because he has more to live for.
The essence of being responsible is being more selfless and less self-absorbed. You will agree with me that it does not matter how caring or empathetic you naturally are, being bound by obligation has a way of shifting your focus from living solely for our personal ambitions to a more inclusive vision that accommodates more people.
This is predicated on the foregoing point i.e the more you age, the more you advance in social, intellectual and emotional intelligence. Even if one is precocious in any of these areas, one would still need to fine-tune one’s precocity within the framework of experience – which almost exclusively comes with age.
3. Skill/Professional Competence
Professional skill/competence is one of those things you will naturally benefit from a repetitive scheme as you age.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying – Practice makes perfection. Well, while there is very little to be said about anybody actually reaching the absolute peak in any field such that improvement is no longer possible, we may safely conclude that being better than where one was on a cumulative scale is certainly attainable.
It is no surprise that the established domains of business (say the Fortune 500 companies) have most senior technical/managerial officers with average ages greater than 40-ish.
You may be quick to point out the ‘new billionaires’. The techies in the mould of the CEOs of Facebook and Snapchat are quite for the description I gave. True.
However, the nature of what they do is such that their primary tool of operation, a computer system, is something that quite a number of children born around the advent of the new millennium have access to.
To be more specific about this, those in certain countries have these technologies at their fingertips (mostly the Euro-American nations and, more recently, China and India). I, therefore, see a framework that gives them a head-start towards their twenties into their early thirties.
Over time, it will not be just skill that matters (for this too would have been saturated) but accumulated experience. Therefore, society will sort of go back to the days where the chances of becoming really rich from IT will increase significantly with age.
4. The net worth of your network
While it might be quite challenging to maintain close/valuable friendship over a significant period of time, the relationships that do scale through as we age usually turn out to be the best. The more time is given to or better still, spent in a relationship, the greater the social capital it would have acquired.
The more shared experiences you have with a person or group, the more we are willing to offer assistance to them and vice versa. Time strengthens bonds and, like any other entity that compounds its interest, connections maintained over time are the most beneficial.
Apart from shared experiences, you would have also had the privilege of observing these people at close quarters so much that there’s little chance that they’ll have hidden anything from you. With this being the case, you tend to trust them more and vouch for their character.
This is particularly important in the present age of ‘recommendation economy’. The age where your track records, skill and character are a door opener in a lot of places. Furthermore, this business model will perhaps be the key to opportunities where remote jobs are dominating.
In other words, your professed reputation in itself may not be enough, someone known to your prospective client has to guarantee that you are really worth your salt. This person quite likely could be the friend you have kept for so many years.
5. Your relationship with your family
This point is very related to the foregoing thought. Although this discourse is not exactly a relationship talk, I must, as a matter of necessity, state that having better parent-children relationships is strictly a matter of choice and effort.
In other words, it is highly unlikely that improvement in these matters will occur automatically. Rather, concrete and deliberate steps should be taken by the parties involved in obtaining the best value and what is collectively acceptable for all parties in the relationship.
Left to me, there are very few things that are as beautiful as reunions and marriage anniversaries. These ceremonies are celebrations of the institutions upon which our very society is built. Without a doubt, growing old with a loved one is infinitely better than doing so alone.
Even better is growing old with a spouse, relative or prior generation (say parents) to look to while doing so. Cross-generational communities where we have ‘grand-something’ in both directions are more in tune with their history, identity and culture.
Hence, you tend to have richer, broader and happier experiences in life. As I said earlier, the principles stated in the foregoing point also applies here – please go over it and fit it into the framework of friends and family.
I can bet you that your response when you see a photograph of yourself as a young lad is a wistful smile. I believe this is because the photograph triggers images, sights and sounds of what had occurred ages ago.
At that moment, you tend to be grateful for the chances and relationships that have built you. Perhaps you turn rueful for the things you did or didn’t do that you’re not so proud of. Be that as it may, the fact remains that you gain a certain breadth and depth of perspective as you spend more time.
However, I must also state that this is not always a pleasant experience because there is none (as far as I know) with a perfect past and/or hindsight. Notwithstanding, no one has deliberately disabled their ability to remember or do a memory wipe for a fresh start.
This is probably because our innate sense of value acknowledges that irrespective of the pain of our past, there is an element of positive essence to it too. And like a gem in the belly of the earth, it grows in size and substance as it is subject to pressure over time. All it is waiting for is discovery.
17. Your desire to leave a legacy
This point does not stand all by itself if you have been following closely. What I am going to say here is largely a derivative of a couple of points I have explored earlier.
As you spend more time being alive and doing whatever it is you are doing, you will increasingly come to a realization. The realization that people coming after you will need all the help they can get. The first help you can offer them is being the best of yourself.
This way, you would have kept them from the pain of doing your own responsibilities alongside theirs. As you walk down the aisle of time, you will see more and more instances of devastation. This devastation was piled on posterity because those who are ahead were narrow-minded, selfish and irresponsible.
For a sane human being, seeing this cycle of ruin get repeated almost ad-infinitum is enough to make one do at least what one can for future generations, if only for one’s offspring. As a parent, you need to look into the eyes of your children. See how you must not fail to leave a good legacy.
A solid foundation for your children to build on.
Your tendency to accept who you are, considering how your uniqueness has exhibited itself over the years is also worthy of note. When you were young and still self-conscious (especially as teenagers), the opinion of a lot of people mattered to you.
This, of course, made you susceptible to peer pressure. However, as you grow older and wiser, things about you that are not common begin to emerge. You then start to see, acknowledge and accept the fact that you will do best at being yourself. You will no longer put the futile effort in trying to be someone else.
The more you do this, the better you get at these things. This helps you to build a solid sense of identity. You no longer seek for external validation or strive to impress. Much more express your innate gifting and the unusual flavours of personality in strengths and weaknesses.
While I have just said sounds idealistic, I believe there’s more than a modicum of reality to it. That is how we were designed to function. Perhaps this is why a lot of old people are not so into gold. Their healthy sense of self-worth is their gold, not some external accessory.
This discourse will be incomplete without talking about one of the most prominent forces that are shaping human society – technology. In the few years I have been alive, I have seen technology put humanity through a number of amazing transformations.
And I tell you, the pace at which we zip through technological phases is only going to increase. Robert Downing Jr. said at the opening of the groundbreaking series by Netflix – Age of A.I, and I quote: “It took us roughly about 10,000 years to go from writing to printing press but only about 500 more to get to the email.”
This acceleration factor here is simply dizzying. More importantly is the fact it helps us live a richer, fuller life that is heartwarming. With technology, going from one place to another, healthcare has significantly improved. Life expectancy has also jumped by several years in just decades.
Connecting with clients/customers, friends and family has also been made much more convenient. These are only some of the myriad areas that technology has positively affected our lives. Although there are instances where technology has done significant harm. In this case, the problem isn’t the technology but the people using it. An example is the proliferation of arms and weapons of mass destruction.
Technology is just a tool. Whether it turns out bad or good is the responsibility of those who created it and those by which it is used.
10. Wine (I can almost hear someone say “Did I hear you right?”) 😆
Lastly, I am going to go all cheeky on you. And yes, you did hear me right. While it’s true that wine gets better with time, the point is, some things get better by simply sitting bottled up. All by themselves on the same spot.
I can’t say I’ve arrived at that conclusion based on personal experience, it is stuff we see in the movies. You might also wanna look up a vigneron’s catalogue.
The best response will simply be to accept the existing and leave the rest for time to fix. Knowing that we cannot control everything, that we cannot make things right on a whim even when we do have the skill/capability and accepting these facts is a height of humility that only the truly mature eventually reach.
So, I would summarize by saying you should identify those things around you that have the nature of wine, get the right additives and fine bottle, cork it up and place it in a sweet spot.
Do not be anxious, wondering if you could do more. Just ease your grip and let go of things. Be rest assured that your taste buds will thank you in the future.
I do hope you have been able to glean a bit of wisdom from these words. Read over if you have to, you might even add yours in the comment section. After all, the whole point of this discourse is to have you look inwards.
I am sure that somewhere in you are treasures in the form of thoughts and realizations. They will come from adding the time dimension to your conduct and contemplations.
I close with this quote from the Bible: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalms 90, verse 12; The King James Version)