The Wisdom of my Elders

I’m preoccupied with age. Maybe given even a slightly different set of circumstances, I would let go, just a little, this obsession that at this point, I should have it “all figured out.” The fact that I don’t and, more than that, am starting at the squarest of ones at age 39 weighs heavy on my spirit.

I look at people my age who have been working their jobs for years and seem to, almost effortlessly, enjoy salaries and promotions and cars and houses that make mine seem like, well … I might as well be living in a cardboard box with a ratty Yorky and talking to myself. A friend in Oklahoma who runs a dog rescue with her beloved and has a house full of dogs to wake up to every morning. Friends who are nurses, established in their careers, who get to come home to loving spouses and children who make them laugh and smile. Guys from my home group who in the short time they’ve been sober are already moving up in their chosen fields, buying motorcycles and going on dates with pretty girls. I look at all that and I feel like the washed up leper even Jesus shakes his head at. That’s how I perceive it anyway.

But then I read about case after case of folks, many years my senior, embarking on new paths and journeys and endeavors. A writer who I hold in high esteem who is cosigning on a new lease on life with his new bride, soaking up each and every moment of this life. My sponsor who, only a couple of years younger than I am now, got sober and excelled in a career that is now coming to an end. Another friend who has been at his job for a long time and, despite the hurdles of seeing those he loves succumb to addiction and divorce, still reaches out to his friends and looks after their welfare.

These are my elders, those who have come before me and are ready and waiting to give me their wisdom. I can learn from them. Casting aside my preoccupation with “getting it right” at my age and being open to sharing in their life and learning their hard-won truths.

This is my privilege. This is my good fortune. To cherish those who have taken some blows before me. To learn from their mistakes and prepare myself for the same triumphs of their lives.

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