Some Things Don’t Change

Mike McGough
March 2023

“How have things changed since you were a child?”  Area seniors were asked to respond to this prompt by a local agency on aging.  The agency wanted to create contacts with the senior community, and at the same time learn a little about them.  If they requested, students from a local college writing class would meet interested individuals at the college library and record their reflections for them.  In addition to being in touch with local seniors, the agency hoped that looking at the differences the seniors have or are noticing might give some indications of services and programs the agency could provide.  Nobody was going to become a Nobel Laureate with this research, but it would be interesting and potentially insightful for the agency, while being fun for those who chose to participate.

In the end, there were more than 200 responses, about a third of which were written and submitted directly by seniors.  The agency didn’t request any identifying information, just an age, and even that was optional.  All but a limited few agreed to provide their age.  In discussing the differences they’ve observed, the respondents hit a wide range of topics.   They touched on clothing and grooming styles, music and entertainment, politics and government, lifestyle, technology, religion, and a host of other topics where they saw noticeable change.  There was however, one response, written out in longhand, that on first read, didn’t seem to address the prompt.  After a careful read, that response was a true testament to the person who wrote it. Here it is, just as it was offered.    

Oh, there’s lots of differences I’ve noticed over my years.  But I suspect most of them are more the result of how my perspectives has changed.  If you fight change, change generally wins in the end, so long ago I learned how to adapt and make the most of it.  There’s several things that haven’t changed, at least for me, and holding onto them has made adapting much easier. Here’s a few of them. 

A lot of the people I loved as a kid, I love even more now, because we’ve been though decades together.  We’ve laughed a lot, cried a little, and did what we did day by day to live out our lives.  Lots of new people have come into my life.  I’ve learned that there’s really no limit on how many people you can love or how much you can love them; that’s all up to you.  Some of the folks who were big players in my childhood are gone.  Because I’ve come to realize how much more fully, they did for me, I respect them and love them more.  Love is the real thing, it's the big deal, always has been always will be!

There are eight other similarities that easily come to mind.

1. The harder I’ve worked the greater the rewards of my efforts, but no reward has ever seemed sufficient if I’m not enjoying life.

2. Curiosity maybe killed the cat, but it’s still the spark that starts the fire of my imagination, lights the lamp of my learning, and ignites the engine of my motivation

3.  Luck can be bad or good.   Only a fool is stalled by the prospect of bad luck or neglects to learn its lessons to reduce return visits.  It's also the fool who depends on good luck, fails to appreciate her when she shows up, or doesn't invite her back.  

4. Time is a precious gift.  Not a second can be bought or sold, but there’s an endless array of ways to misuse, squander, and abuse the gift.   You can waste time, meander aimlessly through it, or make the most of it.  You play out your choices each and every day.

5. Optimism is a better friend than pessimism.  Positivity is a partner worthy of your embrace, but only if you embrace her with some realism.   Those who partner with optimism don't get a free ride, but their trek through life seems happier and easier.  
6. Making sense of everything I encountered as a child wasn’t always easy.  It was difficult, even impossible at times.  There are still a bunch of things that I can’t make heads or tails of!

7. Please and thank you were three powerful words I learned as a child.  Please and thank you are three powerful words no adult should ever forget.

8. Believing in something bigger than my fears, my dreams, my world, and myself, makes life easier.   I don’t have the weight of the world on my shoulders; He carries that for me!

Sorry if I didn’t answer your question as you wanted me to.  By the way, I’ll be 103 on my next birthday!