What Ive learned from people over 60

Published 3:18 pm Friday, May 22, 2009

Upon reading Mrs. Suesse&squo;s request, I was initially taken

aback with horror, as she

had asked the impossible of me. For as

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you my lovely readership may very well be aware, I am 20-years-old and therefore already have a bank of Complete World Knowledge (to borrow a phrase from

John Hodgman, professional Minor Television Personality) compiled in my brain, all facts that I and I alone have amassed and learned, and therefore, have no use for anything to be shared by people over 60.

Asking me to do this was like asking cows not to moo, or asking a Duke student not to be smarmy. I believe that it was Shakespeare who said, &dquo;Sister, that just ain&squo;t gonna happen.&dquo;

I&squo;m joking, of course (in all actuality and seriousness, it&squo;s usually the cows who are the smarmy ones and the Duke students who moo). Oh, and I&squo;m also kidding about knowing everything.

In reality, I know very little ‐ and the more I&squo;m aware of this fact, the faster I can get around to actually learning things.

So, paradoxical as it may sound, I am most grateful to those over 60 for having taught me that I know absolutely jack-squat. Why do I have the 60-and-up set to thank for this zen-like knowledge of nothing?

Because those of you 60 and over (sorry, 59-year-olds, you&squo;ll just have to wait another year) are armed with the

necessary life experiences to actually, like, know stuff.

And I don&squo;t mean &dquo;stuff&dquo; like &dquo;Calculus&dquo; or &dquo;History&dquo; or

&dquo;Marine Biology&dquo; ‐ anyone with access to the Internet can learn stuff like that (and besides, I&squo;m not completely sure that

&dquo;Marine Biology&dquo; is actually a real thing).

The &dquo;stuff&dquo; to which I&squo;m referring is the composite of earned life experiences that when summed, equate to a view of the world how it actually is. Only those with age have access to this magical fruit of wisdom.

I have seen it in the three kind bike-donating souls who, when asked if it would be okay for me to possibly give their old bike to a friend instead of keeping it for myself, said, &dquo;My policy on

giving is &squo;Don&squo;t look back.&squo;&dquo;

I saw it in Roy Williams, who assembled a bunch of talented college basketball players and then did the hard part, which was to use his wisdom and knowledge to lead the UNC-Chapel Hill Tar Heels to three Final Fours in three years.

From my grandmother, I learned prudence and level-headedness, as well as the fact that ten is an appropriate age for a boy to be allowed to use swear words and watch professional wrestling.

My Uncle Chuck has seen

so much crazy, amazing stuff

in his 64 years of life (several of which were spent managing a pool hall in one of the seedier parts of Chicago) that he can

rattle off a story so astounding, yet true, that your head might explode upon hearing it. Somebody like Uncle Chuck inspires me to see what I can go out and accomplish with my life, even if it may end in

utter and complete disaster, which, admittedly, many of Chuck&squo;s stories do.

From U.S. service veterans such as Howard Greene, I have learned the true meaning of words like &dquo;bravery&dquo; and &dquo;valor,&dquo; because men like Howard have put those words to the test in

defense of our country so that punk kids such as I might

live free. And to them, I will be eternally grateful.

As a teenager, the music of guys like Bob Dylan

(age 67) and Keith Richards (age 65, even though at

this point he looks more like

a fossilized cockroach skeleton than a 65-year-old) inspired

me to look at more than what was going on in my immediate vicinity, and to wonder about what was actually going on

in the world outside my sheltered pocket of existence.

From George Carlin, I have learned that if there are

two groups of people who

really hate each other, chances are they&squo;re going to be wearing two different types of hats.

The Reverend Wally Matsen taught me to question everything, even the things that he himself said. Come to think of it, I now question Wally&squo;s

having instructed me to question everything, especially the things that he said…wait, I&squo;m just so confused. Moving on.

From my step-grandmother Norma, I have learned that it&squo;s never too late to start living it up and enjoying life to the fullest.

Perhaps the person over 60 from whom I have learned

the most, however, is my grandfather, who has done his best to teach me that you can&squo;t take life too seriously, because humor grants you perspective, and without perspective, you&squo;d just be a mooing Duke student.