ATTENTION BABY BOOMERS:
Our Creator designed life to have a way of engaging us in new challenges. In recent years there has been a return to religion as a means of navigating through the challenges and handling the changes that occur in what seems like increasing frequency. The older we get, the more sensitive we become to change.
As an example, baby boomers seem to have found themselves leading in this change as we seek to find some sense of meaning when different stages evolve in our lives. The changes are evident and out of our personal control. In other words, “it is what it is”. We are all growing older with time. Something inside of us knows that the direction in our journey is toward our Creator. On one hand it may sound depressing, but the question posed in this writing for food for thought is this:
Is a person’s worth to be measured by his or her physical ability and/or style? Is it the number of laboring hours that can be extracted from them that makes them who they are? Is it the slight wrinkles on the face or white hair that causes one to be denied a job they are qualified for? Is it the amount of money they have in their possession? Baby boomers attempting to get jobs in this unemployment jungle of survival are feeling the sting of growing old.
The attitude of society toward the aged reflects the concept we have developed for the value of life. However, if the truth be known, a person’s physical strength is diminished with age, but his/her insight and wisdom has grown with age. Do we view this as an improvement or a decline? If a person’s output has diminished in quantity but has increased in quality, has their net worth risen or fallen in the eyes the world? What about in your eyes? How do you see yourself? Although this is not to infer that one that is young may not produce quality work, if one is into quantity and not quality, they may miss the mark for their businesses by shunning aged wisdom.
There is a modern-day attitude that seems at least, partly justified. It is a fact that the older we get, the more we become increasingly challenged with physical obstacles. One may not be able to climb Mount Everest, but is well able to strategize how to get someone to the top. At 50, a person is considered “over the hill” and is already receiving hints toward retirement. We are made to feel like our earlier years are productive and the older we get – we enter a nonproductive period of life.
In the Talmud it states, “Today is the time to do; tomorrow, to reap the reward.” The Midrash tells us that “G-d says to the righteous: ‘Just as I am a creator of worlds, you, too, should do so.’” In other words, our whole life is designed to be a partnership with G-d. You must never stop producing in your lifetime, regardless of the stage you are in. Our Creator specifically created an unfinished world for man to develop and perfect it to the best of their ability while they are here. This is why everything was completed by Him the way He left it on the sixth day, which is the number of man.
THE FEAR OF GETTING OLD
An article published by Jere Daniel in September 1994 says that, “Fear of aging speeds the very decline we dread most. And it ultimately robs our life of any meaning.” We are taught in the scriptures that what we fear will come upon us. Has society taught us to fear the inevitable? We cannot stop the aging process; however, we can change the way we think of ourselves as we grow older. It is not over for you. You have merely moved into another stage in your life and your duty to impact the world for the good still remains within your reach. You have graduated from the stage where you were constantly trying to prove yourself. By now you know what you can and cannot do and what you want from life. Nothing stops us, but us. As you think, so shall you be. The lack of appreciation that society has developed (in general) for our value cannot seep into our head unless we allow it to. We have nothing to fear but our own fear. It may not immediately change your circumstances, but it will change your days.
(Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-72) has a well-known phrase, “radical amazement”.)
The question this phrase beckons is, “Am I connected to my Creator?”
This phrase speaks of a sacred connection with G-d. It is our awe/fear of G-d that causes us to look at our own lives, our aging process and the world in a different light. This is the true spiritual experience. The deeper context of Herschel’s phrase implies that G-d is G-d and He alone is in control.
Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. Our war with nature will result in defeat so… get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is a phenomenon; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. The birds, the trees, the sun, and human beings of all ages; the two year old that is waddling around getting into everything, the 80 plus year old man that gazes in your eyes and seems to impart more vision to you. Learn to live in amazement. Practice saying “wow”, practice saying “I can and will live life to it’s fullest”. Do not look at the negative aspects in your life for everyone, no matter the age, has them, but practice living in “radical amazement”. After all, we cannot stop time and we were given it to make the best of it.
In 1955, Heschel wrote the following deeply prophetic words, “As civilization advances the sense of wonder declines. Such decline is an alarming symptom of our state of mind. Humankind will not perish for want of information; but only for want of appreciation.” (God in Search of Man, p. 46) Amazement, appreciation and awe have been replaced with selfish microwave strategies for life. Nevertheless, the key to our happiness is in our mind. When it is all said and done, it is not what others think of you, it is what you think of yourself. It is learning to live in amazement and pursuing the stage we are in on the journey of life.
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As a public speaker and lecturer, Irma Elisheva is available to address your group. For more information call 888.567.7474 or email us at Ayekahpres@gmail.com