The wisdom of years

In Bioethics we’re reading Atul Gawande’s Mortality, an excellent call to conscience for all of us who know, care for, or anticipate becoming senior citizens. To correct the worst tendencies of a youth-and-consumer-oriented culture to put older people out of sight and out of mind, and to defeat the denialism of those who just don’t like to think about growing old and dying as inevitable stages on life’s way, I’ve challenged us all to think of examples of wise elders who’ve left (or are still leaving) an inspiring legacy, who lived long and constructive lives, and who flourished ’til the end.

First name to come to mind, for me, was Stewart Udall (1920-2010). His “letter to my grandchildren“* is a priceless model of the kind of wisdom only years can bring. He did a moving interview with Bob Edwards not long before his death. Quite a legacy, indeed.

*”Go well, do well, my children! Support all endeavors that promise a better life for the inhabitants of our planet. Cherish sunsets, wild creations, and wild places. Have a love affair with the wonder and beauty of the earth!”

Inspiring Centenarians

Wesley Ernest Brown was born June 22, 1907 and is a U.S. District Court judge who, as of 2010, is the oldest federal judge still hearing cases. (continues)

Life lessons from a nonagenerian

…He’s looking forward to his 100th birthday next May, which he hopes to spend with his family… “I feel pretty good about getting older. I may be 99, but I am still learning and experiencing new things everyday. You never stop learning. Age is not just a number, it’s a badge of all my life experiences.” 
The most important thing he’s learned? “Family is precious. Family is the most influential element of your life from the moment you’re born until the moment you die. Your family shapes who you are as a person.” Beautiful.
His full list of 25 life lessons:
  1. Always maintain a good sense of humor.
  2. Never be too good to start at the bottom.
  3. Exercise every single day, even when you don’t feel like it.
  4. Don’t spend more money than you make.
  5. Drink orange juice every day. 


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