GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018 - 10

the future of aging
What was that? Am
I hearing something?
"I don't want to be an
'elder,' " you might be
muttering resentfully.
"I'm not old, crotchety,
or wrinkled enough."
Suspend judgment (a
skill that elders have
nurtured) for a moment
and read on.
This won't be the
first time a demographic
group has taken back
a term, turning a pejorative into a symbol of
pride. "Yankee" was a
derogatory term of the
Brits to describe the New
World upstarts, but it was
soon adopted by New
Englanders themselves
(and many a baseball fan,
centuries later). Similarly,
Malcolm X and other leaders helped our country's
African American population embrace the word
"black" in the 1960s even
though it was a word many
racists had used to describe
them. Southern comedians like Jeff Foxworthy have taken back
"redneck" as a proud word that defines their identity. And when
you were a kid on the playground a generation ago, you didn't
want to be called "queer," but LGBTQ folks have re-appropriated that slang and made it cool. Own the word, it gives you
power.
10 GRAND

NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2018

"

Chip Conley

"Just as a child peers into adulthood
with intrigue, wouldn't it be
miraculous if an adult peered into
elderhood with excitement?"

So how do we take back the term elder, and create a
modern definition as someone who has great wisdom to
offer, especially during a time when wisdom is ever more
valuable? As the geriatrician and author Dr. Bill Thomas said
to me, "We see a child and know that this person is living in
childhood. We see adults and know that they are living in
adulthood. What is missing is the experience of seeing an
elder and knowing that person has outgrown adulthood
and is living in elderhood." Let's make it a 'hood that's not
scary. Just as a child peers into adulthood with intrigue,
wouldn't it be miraculous if an adult peered into elderhood
with excitement?
Sad but true, the one ritual you can bet on-that
defines this unnamed era that is expanding in length-is
receiving your AARP card by mail right before your fiftieth birthday. Every fifty-year-old ought to also receive
a two-sentence letter to help set the stage for his or
her next chapter. This letter should read: "You may live
another fifty years. If you knew you would live to the age
of one hundred, what new talent, skill, or interest would
you pursue today in order to become a master?"
As I describe in chapter 2 of my book, Wisdom@
Work - The Making of a Modern Elder, through no
plans of my own, I stumbled upon a job in my fifties at
Airbnb, where I was surrounded with people who were
half my age, and maybe twice as smart as me. It was
disorienting, as there is no modern-day manual for
the afternoon and evening of one's life. Unprepared,
many people face their Modern Elder years with a
sense of anxiety. They fear that their skills are extinct, relics of
a bygone era. But what many don't realize is that the Modern
Elder hasn't just acquired more skills by virtue of being older,
but also has achieved the skill of mastery, which can be applied
to learning new things. Modern Elders can move from being the
wisdom keepers of the past to the wisdom seekers of the future.
Aging with vitality exists when you create the perfect alchemy of
wisdom and innocence.
Continued on next page


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GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018

Contents
GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018 - 1
GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018 - 2
GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018 - 3
GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018 - Contents
GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018 - 5
GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018 - 6
GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018 - 7
GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018 - 8
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