Age Equals Incompetence, Right?
As we grow older, our senses and physical abilities tend to become less available and less effective, but many of us take for granted that this happens on something of a time schedule, just as the leaves fall in the fall, and then comes winter. I suppose, as it is December and the leaves are long gone, and as I will be 93 the day before Christmas, that I am being personal again.
I have written before about the tendency of people to regard me as changed since I am over 90. Some of those closest to me are among this lot. I do observe that I drive more carefully now, but this is because I want to avoid any discussion with the authorities about age if I commit some tiny infraction. I accept that eventually time conquers all, but I also know that individual schedules are hard to predict.
Composers create music, and musicians give concerts well into their late eighties. We see people of that "ripeness" completing marathons, even if not winning them any longer. Writers and scientists do very well at similar ages. Understanding accumulates, I think — I was party to matters in my fifties that I am too "smart" to touch now. The "been there, done that" flavour of wisdom does not suffer with the passage of time.
Some societies, as termites and primitive human groups, pool their learned and instinctive behaviour, acting as the group "knows" how to act, often avoiding pitfalls thereby (sometimes literally). This collective wisdom is passed down from generation to generation, a group inheritance of sorts. However, it is difficult to find examples of such complete cooperation in our Western society, or of such attention being paid to the knowledge of elders. In the rush of modern culture, is the voice of the older individual still heard?