|LIFE DOESN'T END AT FIFTY|
Ever wonder what your life will be like when you're old? It
can't possibly be better than your younger years, can it?
History is full of examples of older achievers, people who
didn't let age keep them from doing great things.
Ronald Reagan served as president in his 70s and was so
efficient, he often managed to dress himself. Just as
surprising to political observers, Reagan was extremely
active and often jogged all the way from the front of the
White House to the dining room. No shortcuts through the
Yes, despite his advanced age, Reagan effectively handled
the top job in America, partly because he never forgot vital
information, such as the shortest route to the bathroom. In
fact, his memory was so good, whenever he met an attractive
intern, he remembered he was married. That's the type of
memory more people should have.
Then there's the legendary astronaut John Glenn, who
returned to space at age 77 -- more than three decades after
his first mission -- and managed to return to Earth in one
piece (two, if you count his dentures). He became the oldest
person ever to travel into outer space, and, who knows,
perhaps even the baldest. I mean, boldest.
And what about writer E. Annie Proulx, who became a novelist
in her 50s and won both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book
Award in 1994 for "The Shipping News." While some people her
age are signing retirement checks, she's busy signing
autographs. Retire? Maybe in a couple of decades, when she's
tired of being rich and famous.
Considering that many people are overachievers in their 50s,
60s and 70s, it's amazing how common age discrimination is,
especially in the workplace. So many employers seem to
prefer hiring young workers, missing out on the strengths of
older workers, strengths such as discipline, experience,
reliability, and wisdom, not to mention the willingness to
Older people are nudged out of jobs partly for financial
reasons -- they often earn more than younger workers -- and
partly because of the myth that "you can't teach old dogs
new tricks," a myth that has been spread all over the world
by packs of sneaky young dogs.
You CAN teach old dogs new tricks, sometimes faster than it
would take to find a reliable young dog, one that won't run
helter-skelter after the first bone thrown its way.
Unfortunately, discrimination against old people is common
outside the workplace, too. We just don't give old people an
equal chance. That's why it took 80-year-old actor Tony
Randall many years to find a youngster willing to marry
We often make fun of older drivers, forgetting that young
drivers cause many accidents, too. Of course, such accidents
are partly the fault of automakers. They haven't equipped
dashboards with dictionaries, so how do they expect young
drivers to understand words such as "merge" and "yield"?
Sixteen-year-old driver: "Hey, that sign said 'yield.' What
the heck does that mean?"
Fifteen-year-old passenger: "How should I know? The only 'y'
word I learned in school is 'yo.' I'll have to remember
'yield' the next time I play Scrabble."
I always find it strange when young people disrespect or
mock old folks. After all, aging is inevitable, no matter
how many face lifts you can afford. In just a few decades,
every youngster will be either old or dead. Those options
may both seem unpleasant, but you'd have a hard time
convincing John Glenn. He'd rather be thousands of miles
above the earth than a few feet under. Wouldn't you?
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