JEFF COX: Advantage of age…



Organic Food Guy
Kenwood, Sonoma County

Now that I’ve reached the advantage of age, I can see that time makes a circle around infinity. From the pinnacle, I can see the path of my life circling the mountain.

There’s that time when I was two and cried because the barber was going to cut my rich golden locks. There’s me at 10, total pals with my dog Debbie, inseparable from her and our wanderings in the fields and woodlands together.

And look, there I am at 25, sitting in the slot at a daily newspaper, the sleeves of my white Gant shirt rolled up, a cigarette dangling from my lips, writing headlines for hometown newspaper stories. I can see it all, at once if I wish, and from this place of heightened vision, I can dispense my version of wisdom.

I’m not saying that I’m right. I am saying that I can see for miles and miles. Nobody has the absolute truth, because nobody is infinitely wise. But I have the wisdom derived from my long life. Over all these years, the insights and lessons that I have distilled from my experiences are a brew that is worth something. Juice pressed from unripe fruit is sour. Juice from ripe fruit is delicious.

I suspect this is why the elders are respected in many societies around the world. When problems arise, why not go to those who have the long perspective and the wisdom that comes with it? They may not have the answer, but they may have an answer. And you can put it in your bag of possible answers. And eventually let them trickle through your fingers until one feels right for you, and can inform your own personal decision.

As I age, I find myself becoming less and less visible. Sales people and checkout clerks call me “honey,” or “sweetie,” of which I am neither. I am a towering, full-blown, mental repository of an entire life’s experience. You think you know things? You should inhabit my mind for an hour and see the kind of things I know. I’m sure it would blow your mind.

It seems obvious: respect your elders. Not because you should be in servitude to them, shackled to their past, but because they just may be miles ahead of you on the path, full of insight and wisdom, aching to share it with you, if you only respected them enough to ask.