Friday, November 11, 2005

Those Candles Don't Mean a Thing!

Not long ago my family helped me celebrate another birthday. The occasion was very enjoyable.

Yet I did more than open presents, smile and laugh. I did some serious thinking,too, because birthdays really trigger my thought process.

One of the main things I said to myself when I blew out the candles on the cake was this: "Those candles don't mean a thing."

What was I feeling when I said that? Well, candles can't communicate. All they do is light up the place for a minute or so. Strangely enough, though, people act like those candles say plenty.

Examples: If you have had only 30 candles on your cake, your supervisor might assume you are too young for a managerial post. If your cake has held 40 candles, younger neighbors might consider you something of a fossil already. If you have blown out 50 candles, you will find that the job market does not seem to be as receptive as it once was. And when you have extinguished 60 candles, well-meaning people start asking when you are going to retire.

In other words, our society has established behavioral patterns we think everyone in a certain age bracket fits--and we communicate our expectations repeatedly.

I will offer this simple illustration to counter that baseless assumption. When I was vice president of a college in Kentucky, a 94 year old lady returned to finish her degree. When a sudden January snowstorm cancelled classes, she said her biggest regret was that she had to miss her bowling class!

She was right on target. She had blown out lots of candles, but that did not stop her from an energetic life style.

As a favorite saying goes, "Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

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Blogger Monica Ricci said...

Excellent entry Bill. I just turned forty and I feel better and younger than ever! Candles be damned. :)

10:39 AM  

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