Publishers Letter: “PERENNIALS” — NOT PLANTS — ELDERS!

By Blaine Howerton, Publisher
North Forty News

Back in the 1960’s some Boomer coined the phrase: “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Impractical though it was, it caught on especially with the media that overtly began portraying older people as inept and decrepit. Creating silos for the generations, that concept continues to adversely affect our culture.

The truth of the matter is that we are all going to be over 30 for the majority of our lifetime — notwithstanding obesity and diabetes epidemics, a lifetime that keeps universally lengthening — LOTS of years to needlessly feel over-the-hill.

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The early 60’s were a time for rip-roaring change. But as usual, we Americans threw out whatever came before and totally embraced the new (whether or not it was the best course of action in the long run). For example, the classics still have value.

Today, so much change is now forced upon the public, mostly for-profit. Do we really need to learn a new iteration of word processing every single year? Some new versions are actual improvements. But now, if I have to trade in my printer every two years that’s a waste of my time and money.

For people in the midst of their careers all this constant change creates an undue burden. They still need to be fully versed in their particular field, learning it in depth. Through being forced to learn new technologies and participate in social media so much time is now being siphoned off that it increases stress levels — less time equals less of everything we value.

With the magnitude of ever-increasing change, our younger generations (and by “younger” I’m talking up to around 50 as the new midlife number) need help from older people who have “been there and done that.”

As the population continues to mature, times are changing. And just in time, some might say.

Books like: HOW TO LIVE FOREVER, The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations by Marc Freedman are popping up. Organizations such as Encore are encouraging older folks to reach out to see who among the younger generations they can coach and mentor.

Most successful people already know (or are fast to learn) how to cultivate an older mentor. They know how not to eliminate one valuable contact after another through not paying attention — “ghost” a mentor and you’ve lost a lot.

Especially retired professionals, instinctively and through training and observation, know the nuances of life such as how to write a difficult “ASK Letter.” How many young people are being taught such skills? (Some older professionals know that and more.)

To our older readers: Look around your family or the wider community and see what younger person to whom you can extend a hand. They may be children you might meet through Partners Mentoring Youth. Even if they are adults but still young enough to be your offspring, in today’s times, especially if you are retired and they are not, they could still use your counsel and your assistance. Reach out and build a legacy — Yours!

To our younger readers: Seek out an older person you admire, perhaps a retired (or working) professional in your family, someone in your school, or someone in your spiritual community. Ask if you can meet them for coffee. Bring along a life question or two and see if you can establish a unique relationship. “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” You could create one of the most significant relationships of your lifetime — a friendship that can give you the “edge.” You don’t have to learn everything the hard way (others have done that for you).

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Blaine Howerton

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