If you’re going to respect your elders, how about you start with 93-year-old Roger Angell. Roger just wrote a piece for the New Yorker that’s so utterly beautiful that he’s captured the world’s attention.
Roger has lived through two world wars, the invention of television, the internet, the first moon landing and the discovery of bubble gum.
He’s insightful, hilarious, and has five wonderful life lessons to share – which should be read by people of every age. Read these and walk away substantially wiser than when you began…
1. If you’re lucky enough to reach 90, people will be surprised you’re still alive.
“How great you’re looking! Wow, tell me your secret!” they kindly cry when they happen upon me crossing the street or exiting a dinghy or departing an X-ray room, while the little balloon over their heads reads, “Holy shit—he’s still vertical!”
2. It is inevitable that with a long, fulfilling life, there will also be a degree of loss.
“We geezers carry about a bulging directory of dead husbands or wives, children, parents, lovers, brothers and sisters, dentists and shrinks, office sidekicks, summer neighbors, classmates, and bosses, all once entirely familiar to us and seen as part of the safe landscape of the day. It’s no wonder we’re a bit bent.”
3. Jokes and sex are better than religion.
“I don’t read Scripture and cling to no life precepts, except perhaps to Walter Cronkite’s rules for old men, which he did not deliver over the air: Never trust a fart. Never pass up a drink. Never ignore an erection.”
4. Value the oldies because they know where it’s at.
“We elders have learned a thing or two, including invisibility. Here I am in a conversation with some trusty friends—old friends but actually not all that old: they’re in their sixties—and we’re finishing the wine and in serious converse about global warming in Nyack or Virginia Woolf the cross-dresser. There’s a pause, and I chime in with a couple of sentences.”
“The others look at me politely, then resume the talk exactly at the point where they’ve just left it. What? Hello? Didn’t I just say something? Have I left the room? … I didn’t expect to take over the chat but did await a word or two of response. Not tonight, though… When I mention the phenomenon to anyone around my age, I get back nods and smiles. Yes, we’re invisible. Honored, respected, even loved, but not quite worth listening to anymore. You’ve had your turn, Pops; now it’s ours.”
5. You can never get too old for love.
“Never mind the why or wherefore; somewhere in the night; love me forever, or at least until next week. For us and for anyone this unsettles, anyone who’s younger and still squirms at the vision of an old couple embracing, I’d offer John Updike’s “Sex or death: you take your pick.””