Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An old hello; a goodbye (from God be with ye) read to the bottom:

Growing Old Gifted

(Lifted from a friend's Facebook page today. She found this essay somewhere and wanted to share it.)

Much has been said and written and researched about gifted children.
Gifted adolescents also have a place in the consciousness of researchers.
But it seems that there is a dearth of information when it comes to the gifted
adult and giftedness in old age has not, as yet, caught our attention as a
worthwhile subject of investigation. There are many stories about old
people: about their loneliness, their surprising longevity, and their ability to
continue to participate in social life. In other words, how they stay young
but not much how they actually grow old. I don’t really know what old age
is anymore or when it begins. I’ve seen many people get old and die.
What a difference between my grandparents at age 70 and my
generation. What comes after adulthood? Seniorhood? Isn’t that just an
older adult? What defines a senior? Getting old and dying kept being
postponed I used to think that old age began about age of 70. And so it did,
but right along with my own aging. People began to stay younger older or
did they get older? Well I am too old to figure that out it was as though the
end of the road moved further and further as I traveled it. Being an “adult”
covered an ever-larger span of time. People in their seventies were fully
functioning adults deeply rooted in the only reality we know. There was
little time to ponder life death and eternity, which mankind is eternally
concerned with, especially the gifted. We postpone these thoughts until later
But upon arrival in one’s early 80s, the road one has been traveling which
had been — relatively well lit, well-described, and well-worn, begins to
peter out, until one is left standing in a field, no longer sure of the way.
Older old age has not been well described except as a lack of young age.
Moreover, at this point in the development of the species, old age is being postponed to an ever-later time in life. I am feeling that I’m kind of on
virgin ground now and there is not much, as far as I know, that can help me
and others cope with these experiences now that I am 87.
Most of what I read and observe is based on the idea of staying young
as long as we can. While the adolescent is looking forward to being an
adult, the old person is trying hard to remain at the stage of the fully capable
and participating adult. Much of what I’ll call older old age consists of
cumulative losses. You may lose your spouse, your friends and relatives
(many of whom you’ve known all your life), you lose many of your
capacities: your eyesight, your ability to hear; you lose your sense of smell
your driver’s license, and you lose at least some of your memory. You also
lose status and respect.
Old age is a time of loss; it can’t be denied — it should not be denied.
But many try in diverse ways to hold on with all their might to their past
status. It is also a time when people begin to get confused. I feel the
confusion might be part of the denial, “If I can no longer really understand
the loss, it may not hurt so much. I personally want to experience this period
with open eyes. In our society you don’t really count anymore. You feel
demoted. This is a huge problem, actually typical for our society. The rug
is literally pulled from under our feet. I am elaborating on this because I am
literally in the middle of this.
How do you find yourself? Rather how do you find your new position
in life? Is it a new period of dependency? It is in some way a repetition of
childhood only instead of having a growing body, which is geared to
attaining independence you have a disintegrating body where you don’t
know how far you are yet going to sink. When you are a child you look
forward to building up to gaining. At this point, you don’t know how far the deterioration is going to go and if you are gifted you stand by it with open
When we’re younger, we learn to compensate for almost everything in
which we are deficient. We can also try to fix what ever may be wrong. We
can fix relationships for instance by trying harder. As we get older, we can’t
continue to compensate for everything that we might lose. What we need to
do is to find a way of facing the ongoing losses, and learn how to cope with
that, rather than compensate. Some people find ways of accepting the losses
by putting them into a religious framework (“It’s God’s will,”), but one of
the ways in which the gifted have to cope with life is to look at whatever
happens in a most honest way, and not necessarily finding ways in which to
cover up these losses, or in which to compensate for them. Maybe that’s the
task of the gifted older old person: to look at things as they are, without
trying to compensate or replace. I will never be young again. I will never
drive a car again. My life on this planet is definitely moving toward its very
end. This is probably the last stage of my life. Some of my dreams will not
ever be fulfilled; in fact, one of the things we give up at old age, or perhaps
sooner, is that there is plenty of change but not much progress, except in
certain areas. It’s not true that everything is a contrast, good and bad, god
and devil, right and wrong. The universe is an experience without
explanation, life the fact of it, can not be explained, When we reach old age,
we have to start giving up some of our hopes In old age we realize that we
can’t change the universe. Though we may make a great impact on a small
part of it, even that impact needs to be seen as part of the overall unknown
universe. We don’t have the capacity to really understand life and the
universe, but there are ways in which we express that lack of understanding
— through poetry, music, and art — which resist interpretation, and are a mystery we are creating. When we are young we still hope that we will find
the stone of wisdom. We spend all our life to crack open the secret of life
and in the process we have learned and invented an amazing amount of
knowledge amassed, so much of it and changed the face of the Earth. We
never discovered the secret of the Universe and scramble along blindly
creating havoc but also much beauty. We are searching forever driven by a
need to know and create busy like the little ants. From my window I see two
highways. Day and night thousands of cars travel back and forth and above
them is the beauty and mystery the unknown, the stars, the sun and moon. I
have lived on this planet for 87 years but have not come any closer to the
questions I have been asking every day of my life. “What is this life, this
universe all about ? Now I really know deep in my heart that I will never
know the answer. I’m trying to use or find a perspective that isn’t usually
used – I think this older old age outlives our framework of definitions. I’ve
always had this feeling that I don’t belong and that we can’t really interpret
the mystery because we don’t have the capacity for thinking beyond the
three familiar dimensions. With old age we no longer have the ability to
look forward to an imagined future. We can’t fix it. And of course this is a
definition of death, the ultimate finality of fate.
There’s no definition of where I am in life now. It’s beyond old—and
I can’t write about it because I can’t define it. I’m saying goodbye to the last
stage that’s definable. I have never felt this way before. I’m also feeling
that there isn’t anybody who can identify with this. The other old people I
know are either senile or too firmly rooted in the concrete! I’m living in a
twilight world. There is a lack of definition. In younger years, you can get
through these times by considering your future, but in old age, there is no
more future to imagine. How can you live without the future? Maybe being beyond old forces us to really understand that the mystery is a
reality. What stretches beyond the door of death is an eternity of unknown.
Eternity and infinity are concepts that young children often struggle with,
but soon give up because they can’t find the answer. During our active
lifetime we forget about it, and get so involved with day-to-day living that
we don’t see the mysterious universe in which we are trying to put our feet
on some kind of concrete ground. Living beyond old, with our eyes open,
may force us to truly accept the reality of the infinite and eternal, as well as
to continue to understand the fact that we can never really know the answer
while we are on this earth. So, peeking around the door of death, I see the
road to eternity and infinity as the reality I need to live now. From traveling
miles and miles of earthly road, I will need to accept the unknown not only
as the past and the present, but also as my only future. So my conclusion is
that when you reach the age beyond old, your only reality is the unknown,
but this has actually always been true. We don’t know the past or truly the
present, we don’t know whether what one feels as a Self, while we are alive,
will remain as such or transform into further unknowns. Integrating these
understandings as a reality may be the definition of “beyond old” age.
Gifted elders have to keep their minds trained carefully, and keep on
using it, and in fact I think that preservation of the mind has an additional
task: it serves to maintain the self-preservation and the independence of the
individual. Keeping a sharp mind becomes a way of preserving one’s
independence and control. Just as I consciously watch every step I take so
that I won’t fall, I watch every thought I think, so that I can keep control.
But the need for control is also a form of mistrust. If we look at our whole
life experience, and especially that of young children, we will find that often we impose our own agenda on them; the same is true for old people. There
is a point at which we must give up that control, and the only people to
whom we can trustingly give it up are those who love us unconditionally.
As I am rereading this article with which I have been struggling for a long
time I realize that I have accepted “unconditionally” the modern concept of
old age. Namely, that there is really no place in our bustling “reality“ (as we
see it) for it. They become ”seniors” not the “wise elders“ whose advice is
“sought“ and respectfully listened to. We “put” them into retirement homes.
In fact, their children put them there. They are often not considered fully
responsible anymore. There are those who feel the burden of responsibility
for them and gladly turn it over to their loving children and, of course, that
should be respectfully accepted. But I am sure there are many who have
accumulated much wisdom but no one asks their advice. Congress does not
have a section for “elders”. You don’t hear the elder’s advice. Occasionally,
one hears of Elder statesmen, but we have no official place for them. We
don’t hear in congress, “The “elder” stateswoman from Hawaii wishes to
speak. What would happen if every administration had an elected council of
elder state people? Of course, they may have the same limitations as others
but chances are that there may be a spiritual dimension, a view from the
greater distance. Most of all, there is less of a personal agenda because they
have lived their life and done their work. They are retired.
What opportunities do we miss by not hearing our elders and what
heightened experiences do they miss by not playing their appropriate role in
society? How much wisdom goes down the drain unused? In personal
terms, I probably have more opportunity to be heard because I am still active
in my work with gifted children and am listened to because my knowledge is
defined and specific. Let us just remember how many parents and grandparents take care of their grand children or great grand children. They
are the unsung heroes. I would like to end my remarks with a salute to old
Another perspective

Daily Devotional
Tell a Friend Facebook Fan PageForward to a FriendSign UpWriters Group
United Church of Christ


Excerpt from Acts 20:17-38

"'And now I commend you to God. . .' When he had finished speaking, he knelt down with them all and prayed. There was much weeping among them all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, grieving especially because of what he had said, that they would not see him again. Then they brought him to the ship."

Reflection by Quinn G. Caldwell

Nobody likes goodbyes, and we go to many lengths to soften or avoid them. A colleague leaves or a friend moves, and we say it's not goodbye because we promise to have lunch, or to write, or to Facebook. Sometimes we avoid the moment altogether: even though I barely knew her, I once hid in the bathroom for half an hour at a coworker's goodbye party to avoid the moment when she actually left.

When Paul says goodbye to the Ephesians, he gets it right. He remembers what they did together, he tells them what they mean to him, he commends them to God. The word "goodbye" is a contraction of "God be with ye." Saying it is a reminder that even when we're apart, God is with us both. It's an act of faith that if God is with you and with me, then somehow we're still together, and that in the end we'll join each other at a reunion in God's heart. It's a promise that even when I can't be with you, God will be, and that that will be sufficient.

Sometime soon you'll have to say goodbye to somebody. It's worth doing well, for it's all about faith.


Oh God, all these partings are hard. When I have to say goodbye, help me to cling fast to the faith that you are with us always, and that all of us will one day be reunited again in you. Amen.

null About the Author
Quinn G. Caldwell is Associate Minister of Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ published by The Pilgrim Press.