Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Advice on Advice
Some colleges that teach courses in Gerontology set up forums online where the students may ask a group of Senior citizens questions covering a wide range of topics, mostly about growing old successfully. The kind, old folks give wise and considered advice on how to live your life so that you will die well-to-do, independent, and well satisfied with yourself. Of course, the advice reflects how the person giving the advice lived his/her life. The flaw in the ointment is that, by the age of 60 or 70, prejudice, bias, close-mindedness is firmly embedded in the way of thinking. I am often reminded of the Army expression, “Follow me – and I’ll lead you to hell!”
History is perhaps the greatest teacher that young people can avail themselves of. But the history of an individual as related by the subject himself is dangerous to trust unedited. Pick and choose from the life paths that are suggested to you. Churchill led a very worthwhile life, but do you want to be all that Churchill was? Do you think your life will be enhanced by strong whiskey and an equally strong cigar every evening? Do you want to be so up-tight about preparing for retirement that you take a pledge never to borrow money, never use a credit card? Drive no car until you have saved the money to pay for it? Several of the online elderly advisors counsel such a monastic life.
Read, listen, hear, and study all the advice you come across. Decide who you are, then pick and chose those bits from each source of advice that will enhance the person you want to be.
A mini-quote from Mortimer….”So the Delphic instructions to know ourselves, Shakespeare’s advice, put in the mouth of Polonius in one of the rare moments when he was being sensible,’ to thine own self be true”, and Montaigne’s announcement that living ‘is my trade and my art’ are made harder by severing relations with the past"