Gordon Lightfoot (whose signature lyrics from If You Could Read My Mind are reflected in the post title) turns 75 this November, and Bob Dylan has said that when he listens to a Lightfoot song, he “wishes it would never end.” That’s pretty high praise from a fellow septuagenarian maestro. Perhaps this is because seasoned songwriters instinctively weave life’s essence and lessons into a succinct truth that resonates to the marrow with those who listen, and thus appeals across the decades to both original fans as they age, and to a new audience.
The same might be said of elders. There’s so much wisdom to be gleaned from older team members. Consider this recent ad on CraigsList.com, headlined, “Looking for a 72-year-old writer”:
“I’m looking for a few good writers between the ages of 70 and 74. Seeking contributions from geographical locations all over the United States from persons who were in high school during 1959. For details about my project please go to http://www.classof59.net. It is okay if someone younger writes a contribution that was obtained orally from a member of the high school class of 1959.”
What a lovely tribute to what has been labeled, “The Silent Generation.”
“It is not how old you are, but how you are old,” said Academy Award-winning actress Marie Dressler. We’re moving from a model that focuses on disease, disability and death to one of “passion, purpose, and participation,” which happens to be the tagline of COPA (Collaborative on Positive Aging), a new volunteer division of the Council on Aging in one California community.
At the initial COPA gathering, much of the guiding wisdom for how future meetings might be organized was provided by people in their 70s and 80s, such as: “To remain vital, we need a mix of social/learning/leisure/contribution.” How perfect a reminder to anyone who serves seniors — reverse mortgage professionals obviously included — that as people age they become not a group apart, but more of who they’ve been, with a blend of needs and desires to enrich and fulfill these later years.
Consider the Sun City Poms, Arizona cheerleaders whose minimum age requirement is 55, along with the requisite “dance skills of rhythm, agility, poise, energy, and showmanship for performing. Acrobatics and baton twirling are a plus.” Wow! These women are weaving their social, leisure, learning and contributing into a bountiful blessing for everyone.
In his brilliant essay on conscious aging, Rabon Delmore Saip, a presenter at the COPA meeting, quotes developmental psychologist Paul Baltes: “One of the great challenges of the 21st century will be to complete the architecture of the human life course.”
The seniors reverse mortgage professionals serve today are playing a vital role in constructing the future of humanity, as they (and we) reinvent what it means, and what it “looks like”, to be “old”.