14 April 2010

Getting Older: Back to Basics

As I get older, I find my interests and awareness slowly evolving to become more like those of my parents, who are now grandparents. Simple pleasures like spending time with children, playing cards, and gardening are becoming increasingly fulfilling, and intellectual debates about saving the world are fading in their allure.

A heightened awareness of the wonder of nature is my latest rediscovery, as I marvel with my young daughters who are discovering it for the first time. The clich├ęs about staying young by seeing the world through their eyes have some truth to them, but I believe the more fundamental reason for the evolution of interests is a greater awareness of what really counts. By this point, I'm fairly set in my intellectual ways, so rehashing them doesn't accomplish much, but I seldom tire of spending time with family and friends.

After I learned how to play hearts a few years ago, I quickly thought I had mastered the game and it became boring. When I play it now, I recognize seemingly endless subtleties that not only help me to become a better card player, but seem to parallel life. Knowing which cards to pass off and which ones to hold is akin to coming to terms with our daily dilemmas. In life, finding pleasure in what others reject or ignore is also much safer than searching for the holy grail. It isn't really important whether I win the card game, but rather whether I play my hand to its full potential.

The same analogies apply to parenting and teaching, my chosen vocation. Regardless of what others are doing, I can always improve myself if I only take the time to contemplate my situation. Is this what it means to grow old?

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