Wise crackers


AGMA’s an on again, off again fan of On Being. Of late, more off again. I need to fix that.

For those of you who don’t know, On Being is a public radio show/podcast here in the U.S. It used to be called Speaking of Faith, but they rebranded it. I guess because it sounded too “religious”. Maybe.

Their website (onbeing.org) describes their purpose… “On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?”

Easy peasy right?

A link on the On Being Facebook page to a recent OB blog post caught AGMA’s attention. It’s titled The Wisdom Boom and is by a young, 30 something woman named Courtney Martin. You can read her post here if you want: http://www.onbeing.org/blog/courtney-martin-the-wisdom-boom/8422

It starts out, “Every eight seconds, another baby boomer turns 65.”

Don’t remind me. Only 1,563,520 x 60 seconds to go.

It talks about reframing the concept of aging Americans from a Silver Tsunami to a Wisdom Boom. Wisdom Boom sounds much more optimistic and not quite as frightening as Silver Tsunami. And much better than the 1970’s Gray Panthers.

I like Wisdom Boom, but with a caveat.  Wait for it…

In the post, she writes about specific Wisdom Boom individuals.  She describes their activities and the organizations some of them have established to enable people in the “third act” of life have an impact on the world.

Oops.  I think I must have missed my “second act”.  When did that happen?

At 36, Ms. Martin thinks she’s in the “messy middle”. It’s natural when you leave your 20’s to feel a bit like youth is passing you by. I remember thinking that when I was 34.

But oh, young AGMA and Ms. Martin, nothing could be further from the truth.  At 34 and 36, you are still so very young… Your future is still unfolding in front of you and will for quite some time. The “messy middle” really doesn’t start until you’re well into your 40‘s. And the &hit doesn’t start hitting the fan until you are into your 50’s. You have plenty of time so don’t panic.


Just think of this.  A lot of people qualify for the Olympics well their 30’s and 40’s. Just look at Meb Keflezighi (easy for me to say…) At 40, Meb just qualified for his 3th Olympic Games in the Marathon. The Marathon. He’ll be 41 when the Games start in August. Running 26.2 miles in less than 2 hours and 15 minutes. At 41.

Holy crap on a cracker.

Like all of us, Ms. Martin’s in search of wisdom. She has a very busy, crazy life with family and career. She feels like she’s building stamina, but says, “…I’m not always sure I’m absorbing wisdom. Absorption feels like it takes time. I don’t have a lot of that.”

None of us had the time at 36. Trust me, none of us did. But the wisdom comes precisely through a busy, messy, out of control life. You don’t think about the lessons that you’re learning at the time or the “absorption”. You’re just trying to get through each day without screwing things up too badly. But later on, when you do have the time (and you will), you realize that the learning, the absorption, happened anyway. It’s not dependent on you consciously doing anything. The wisdom comes from surviving. And paying just a little bit of attention along the way.

Most of the time.

Ms. Martin sounds incredibly fortunate in that she seems surrounded by mature, self actualized, truly wise older adults. I caution her not to project her experience on all older adults.

And here’s that caveat…

As you and I well know, dear AGMA readers, a blaze of candles on a birthday cake doth not wisdom guarantee. Some of the goofiest, unwise, clueless people I know are in that “third act”.

For whatever reason, they haven’t learned the important lessons from the great taskmaster called Life. They have no idea how to set healthy boundaries and in many cases, are too wounded to grow emotionally as their bodies grow more age rings. And they seem to get more clueless as time passes.

They personify the definition of insanity; doing the same things over and over, and expecting different results. They get angry and bitter because they can’t figure out what happened; what went wrong.

We all know some of these folks. They are not the people to be working on those world impact projects. They might have an impact alright, but no the kind I think Ms. Martin is writing about.

But I so appreciated her post and hope you get a chance to read it.

I really love the idea of intergenerational, intercultural, interracial, interfaith, and whatever interother there may be, friendships. Makes me always want to be in a place where I can meet people who are different from me.

AGMA resolved a long time ago never to move to a retirement community like The Villages in Florida. Too many golf carts and STD’s, and not enough diversity for my tastes. But that’s just me.

Just remember Ms. Martin and young AGMA, you are both just in your early “second act”. Enjoy where you are now and try not to overthink things too much. Keep tapping into those wise elders, but don’t diminish the power of your experiences and instincts.

As some wise person once said, don’t worry about the destination; the joy is in the journey.

They were probably over 65.


28 thoughts on “Wise crackers

  1. Amazing how many people in their 30s think they know everything – I certainly thought I did at that age. I had to laugh recently when my 34-year-old daughter complained she is getting old. Heck, I’m 63 and just getting started. Some of us never really make it to the third act, and some of us really don’t want to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me too! I had it all figured out when I was in my 30’s…. Oh boy, was I mistaken! But I think that’s okay – it gave me the courage to do stuff that I might not have done if I had known then what I know now. Sometimes it’s best to hurdle forward feeling confident and not be weighed down by everything that could go wrong.

      I’m good with being in that third act now although I’m still wondering what happened to the second act! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ms. Martin does not know what messy is yet but I wish her well. I don’t want to live in a retirement village either (but I did enjoy the movie “Cocoon”) as it seems like really dropping out. I want a mix with some my age (+70). Had not thought about the Gray Panthers in years! I thought they were really old back then when I was young. Cheers to life, learning and wisdom!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ll drink to that! 🙂 And you’re right – it’s going to get way more messy for her, but we don’t have to tell her yet… She wouldn’t believe it anyway. I know I wouldn’t have if somebody had told me way back when. Life has to be experienced and sometimes there are not short cuts. Thank goodness for wine!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have said so many times, “How can she be so clueless — or dumb — (or it might have been a he), she is the same age as me?” It always seemed that as you age you should all learn life’s lessons at the same time, but some never do, I’m afraid.


    • No they don’t… I know some incredibly smart people who just can’t seem to figure it out. I honestly think it has a lot to do with mental & emotional health or lack of it. It’s hard to be wise when you are emotionally “frozen” at the level of a 15 year old (no matter your chronological age.) You’d be amazed at how many people are stuck like that and have never sought help to get past it. *sigh*


  4. Emotionally frozen – yes, that’s it exactly.

    As to the inter-generational idea I just heard this morning about a combination nursing home/school, or daycare facility in Bellingham WA. The children’s playground abuts the patio area of the nursing home so the oldsters can watch the youngins playing during recess. I meant to look it up to read more about it but didn’t get the chance yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funny you should mention that…. I saw that too and my thoughts immediately went to my own children’s Montessori preschool. It was in a newly built nursing home that had an area specifically designed and built for the preschool in the middle of the facility. It had huge windows in front where the residents could come and watch the children. They even had preschool sized toilets and sinks in the restroom attached to the classroom. But get this – this was back in 1985!! I can’t believe it took this long to catch on… It was a brilliant Idea then and it still is a brilliant idea! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love sitting in meetings at work listening to 30 year old engineers making the same mistakes I did back then. In my 40’s I’d try to correct them. These days I just smile, get a cup of herb tea and say to them, “Let me how that works out for you,” and wait for 65 to come along.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I guess we all had the same experience in our 30’s thinking we had figured things out. I sure did. Now at much closer to 60, every damn day I have a revelation and think “WTH, why I am just figuring this out?”. Of course, it could be I did know it at one time and just forgot!!!
    You keep writing stuff like this and you’re going to have to change the name of your blog AGMA!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have so much to say, but I don’t want to hi-jack your entry.
    I notice often times when something weighs on your mind enough, God/Karma/the Universe sends you a message. This was my message for today.

    I’m 35 – going to be 36 this May. And I’m tired. I worked full time and a half, my employer will not promote me but will keep adding on tasks to test me. Aside from my husband I have very little support when it comes to raising my two wonderful boys. They are young, and need us constantly. The people who are around and can provide support, don’t. BUT they expect me to be the sister, daughter that they knew a decade ago. Rubbish and totally unfair. But I’m not going to cry … I am exhausted though. I feel the constant pull between career kids and myself (I have zero time for myself). Like you mentioned, most days are just about getting thru and not messing things up to much.

    Often times I sit and fantasize about when I’ll be 65 and nowhere to go and nothing to do. Just being able to sit still. But worry creeps in as well, will I have enough financially to sustain myself. How will I pay for colleges? How will I pay for weddings? Will I be the support system for my kids that I don’t have. Will I be able to watch the grandkids?

    I think I do it myself. I don’t let myself or my brain find rest or peace.
    For today, or as long as I can, I’m going to take your advice and just live in the moment.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Now it’s my turn to do the hijacking. I don’t think AGMA will mind, because she’s my sorta sister, and I think she’ll pretty much agree with me. EVERYBODY gets to be “young and dumb” for awhile. And if you read down below, wakingofthebear points out that he wishes he had more time to enjoy the person he has become. I believe that’s the crux of the matter…those of us on the Encore Voyage, second act, third act, or whatever act, are not necessarily smarter, or wiser. We are just farther along in the “becoming.” So many times, hubs and I have said to each other, “Oh, to have known then what we know now.” And you know what the biggest thing we’re starting to know now is? It’s WHAT’S IMPORTANT! And what’s important is not how many activities you can afford for your kids, or how much stuff you can buy them, or even if you will be able to afford gargantuan weddings! The becoming is about intentional living, slowing down BY CHOICE, and deciding to live your life according to what you value most.

      There…you may consider the ransom paid. And BTW AGMA, you are the only other person, besides me, who uses the phrase, “crap on a cracker!” And yep…I chuckled. A LOT!

      Liked by 3 people

      • I couldn’t agree more with Encore Voyage – she is spot on!! We MUST have been twins separated at birth – we are of one mind!

        And I so relate to you, ForkIn… When I was your age, I also had a job and two young sons and absolutely no support other than my husband. We had no family anywhere close (a 6 hour drive away) and had no long term roots in the city we were living so no close friends. It was just my husband and myself. It was truly just getting by each day at a time, each paycheck at a time. It was a challenge, and you’re right, very little “me” time. So I really do get it.

        Not sure that you are able to slow down at this point – like Ms. Martin said in her post, “It’s like drinking from a firehose.” But you can make some choices and set some healthy boundaries that might help you make things a bit more managable. EV is right in that you have to focus in on how you want to allocate both your time and energy by making conscious choices as to what is really important. That might mean that other family who aren’t really helping you out now when you need it might have to be put on the back burner until your kids get a little older.

        I had something happen to me that I felt was “otherworldly” when my boys were very young. It was such a profound experience – I remember it like it happened yesterday. The kids were little (like 2 and 3), and I was tired and short on patience and they were demanding 110% of my time and making a mess and I needed to get something else done (like probably get dressed!) You get the picture…. Anyway, I remember wishing out loud for them to grow up fast up so my life could get a bit less hectic. And an instant later, I literally heard a voice in my ear saying, “No you don’t. Don’t wish their childhood away. They will be grown up before you know it. Enjoy them as they are now, every day.” I was stunned. The voice of God? I honestly don’t know… But just between you and me, I believe it was my mother who had passed away years ago in 1965 giving me encouragement and some of her wisdom.. From that day on, I never, ever wished their childhood away again. And I’m glad I didn’t – turns out they DID grow up before I knew it. Looking back, it was in the blink of any eye and I would have so regretted missing any of it!

        And do I need give your boss a good talking to? I can do that you know… 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  8. I told my kids that the one thing I had figured out once I turned fifty is that the older I get, the less I know, but the more content I become to just let it be. I miss the cocky know-it-all 30’s me. Not as much as sexy ass 20’s me, though. 😁


  9. I am 73 and still trying to grasp what it means to be “old.” Even though my body reminds me of my age, I still don’t consider myself old. I do, however, sometimes wish I had more time on this earth to enjoy the person I have become. I plan on living to 100 at least, so 27 years seems like a short period of time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • And that’s exactly why I’m NOT aging gracefully! I don’t really even know how to do the aging thing (other than my body seems to know exactly what to do or not do as sometimes happens!) And I need to get waaaay more aggressive with my age prognostications… I figure I’ve got until 85 or so, but I’m liking your optimism. I’ll go with 100! That gives me another 38 years – maybe by that time I’ll have some really good stories to tell. It’s never to late to cause some mischief… Like the line that needed to be spoken to read the special map of Hogwarts in Harry Potter, “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good!”

      Liked by 1 person

  10. “As some wise person once said, don’t worry about the destination; the joy is in the journey.” BS!!!
    Sorry, but really, the joy is in BEING ABLE TO LOOK BACK at the journey and accepting that in the process you (or at least I) had very little control in determining the destination, or even the direction! A more benign way to state my point might be a quote I have used before, which I’m paraphrasing and embellishing here. Life is lived going forward but is understood, appreciated, enjoyed, etc. looking backward, probably starting at retirement and/or empty nest. I achieved this marvelous milestone toward my late fifties and consider myself lucky to be living forward while reiterating those backwards glances in a much shorter cycle, since the pace of the rest of my life is so much slower. Does that make sense?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Huh? No, seriously, that didn’t make any sense…. 🙂

      Oh wait – I think we’re saying the same thing, but in different ways. The joy IS in the journey and what happens along the way whether we are looking back at where our journey has taken us or are in the midst of it. The gist of it is not to angst too much about the future (which we have very little control over) so that you aren’t able to be present to what’s happening around you now. In the end, we do have very little influence over the destination, so put the learnings of the past to work enjoying being in the moment.

      Now I’m confusing myself. Nice work! And thank you very much, it’s NOT BS, it’s AS if you please….

      Liked by 1 person

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