I was told this week that I am too old to give blood. Yesterday, I was asked not to volunteer at my charity shoppe because I am too vulnerable. I am self isolating with my wife because my government has asked me to stay away from others as I am more susceptible to becoming infected with the corona virus covid 19. All this is probably well reasoned caution despite the fact that at 67 years young I am in very good health, take no medications and exercise daily for forty five minutes.
And I firmly believe that I am still ready to bloom.
The rose in the glass vessel above reminds me of my life right now. I still have a few blooms left in my ageing body and mind, however, due to statistical evidence, I am now, for the time being and unforseeable future, being asked to step back from public life.
Therefore, each morning I rise and wonder how I may continue to make a meaningful contribution to our world despite the limitations of travel and social interaction. Here are a few lessons I have learned that may help older persons such as myself continue to bloom, contribute and grow.
First, use your gifts. I have a gift for communication and therefore I am using this gift through writing to reach out to others on a daily basis. I also use technology to communicate face to face with loved ones around the world. My grandson and I played hide and go seek using Apple’s Face Time last night. When he finally said “Peek a boo Papa!” my heart melted. One day soon I hope we shall play hide and go seek in person again.
Secondly, create a list of friends and neighbours who could benefit from your kindness. We have left cakes for neighbours and our younger neighbours have similarly contacted us to see if they may help us in any away. Social isolation may have a detrmental effect and therefore I believe it is important to continue to reach out to others during this challenging period.
Thirdly and finally, whilst age and physical decline may conspire to keep older folk like me from contributing in the usual way, we have something that is very valuable for young people. Our lifetime of experience may provide some wisdom that will help younger people through this unprecedented storm.
For example, in the 1940’s and 1950’s the polio virus was widespread and resulted in the closing of swimming pools and theatres due to the fear of infection. Drs Salk and Sabin successfully tested a vaccine and this led to a restoration of normalcy within civil society. However, this took time. We may be in a similar situation today and therefore, it is important to practice patience and to learn from this current situation so that we may help others in the future.
The experience and perhaps wisdom of older people may have some special currency during these frightening times.
My parents generation were referred to late in their lives as “the greatest generation”. This group was born between 1921 and 1927 and endured and triumphed over World War II and many other subsequent disasters.
I am confident that my generation is now also being similarly tested with a different type of war. I am also confident that we shall win this war and hopefully similarly be remembered by those that follow us for our resolve, courage, and wise actions (including self isolation) that will remind those that follow us of the nobility that is possible throughout the final days of our lives. We still have much to give and like the rose, we may be temprarily entrapped, however, long may we continue to bloom.