Wednesday, July 13, 2016

On Getting Older...And Not Accumulating Too Many Things

In a great piece in be-bolder, Jörmundur Ingi Hansen has a great way of looking at growing older and living simply.

I've always been someone who likes living in smaller spaces in the city, collects less things, and lives pretty simply. My family has always thought I was poor, when I think the opposite is true. I'm by no means rich either, but that isn't what it's about. I always say "what's the point of money if you don't share it?" I like to help people out and travel when I can. There are some things you need, of course, like clothes...and books, but I have a tendency to give things away as fast as I buy them because it just reminds me of someone else or "it had their name on it." (I apparently say that a lot, according to friends.)

In the article, I especially love Hansen's comment on what is truly important: 
"The most important lesson I’ve learned is that you have to be content with what you have. We are too prone in modern society to collect goods and money – although I shouldn’t be advising this given that I am trying to sell people expensive suits every day! But people who think they can fulfill their lives by having more ‘stuff’ are missing the point. The best things you can collect are experiences and good memories."
As far as growing older...well that's a whole other story. In my last corporate job, I was looked down on because I was a little older than the Millenials (and not even THAT much older), even though my technical skills are very current. I have nothing against Millenials - I have some friends in that age group. It's the focus being only on them, especially in a marketing field that was supposed to reach all ages. When I was really young, I always looked up to people that were older. And when I worked in social services, I loved my elderly clients - they were interesting and I could learn so much from them. Their stories and experiences were amazing. The Native American culture, and people in other countries, respect and appreciate older people. I've always thought all ages are good - just like I have always thought all races and backgrounds are good. Isn't a mix of people more diverse and more interesting? Why not learn from each other?

In America, the focus is always too much on youth. We are all going to - hopefully - get older. Why not embrace it? Hansen lives in Iceland, so they do have a more open view on age there:
"I don’t think anyone treats me differently because of my age but maybe I just don’t notice it! Possibly young people think older people are obsolete but it’s not so bad here in Iceland, lots of people keep on working. My grandmother was still working until she was well over 90. She was a herbalist and would run up to the mountains to get ingredients. Even when I was 16 I had difficulty keeping up with her."
I myself plan to keep on working well into my nineties too, if I'm fortunate. After all, you should only get better with age, and writing is definitely a field that is more interesting as you have lived more. And I predict I will keep living my life with less and less things...and keep giving them away. 


1 comment:

Suzanne Carillo said...

I loved this reflective look on growing older.