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What’s My Age Again?

Written by Contributor on .

Recently when I was working at the front desk of a local hotel I stood a quarter on its side. I know, right. It was pretty sweet. It stood there on its side--suspended, almost magically--for over 30 minutes until I accidentally knocked it over. I tried for several more minutes to get it to stand back like it was until I finally realized "I've got far more important things to do with my time than stand quarters on their sides."



This little workplace distraction made me realize that I may need a hobby…or at least to pursue my goals harder. You see, you should never stop going after your goals. You should never stop dreaming and you should definitely never stop growing. It's ridiculous to assume that just because of someone's age that they have no more growing to do--that they have nothing left to offer.

I think it's wildly unrealistic and unfair to assume that just because someone is older that they are somehow of less value than their younger counterparts. Let me ask you a question. How did the age of 65 become so universally synonymous with retirement? Were there herds of old people suddenly becoming unproductive at the age of 65? Did these relics slowly and systematically become less and less productive until it reached a point where they were a drain on their company and a drain on the country? Or was the age just arbitrary?

The answer is found in none of these questions. The real answer can be traced back to Germany--back to the 1800's when Otto Von Bismarck was rising to prominence. Bismarck had a keen political sense and he observed that most of his military and political opponents were 65 years or older. They were the ones with the most to offer--they had the greatest wisdom and knowledge and experience. They were, therefore, his greatest threat. He instinctively knew that they would be his greatest obstacle to power, so he spearheaded an effort to make 65 a mandatory age for retirement. That's where this all important number came from. The new policy regarding mandatory retirement was soon adopted in Germany. Then it spread from country to country in quick succession--like dominoes falling--and the rest is history.

Now we see 65 as this age where people are just supposed to start breaking down and having no purpose in life. Just because you're birthday cake may resemble a forest fire doesn't mean you should stop fighting that fire.

Sadly though many people have adopted this mentality--this self-imposed prison of unnecessary limits we place on ourselves. It's like the circus. Elephant trainers routinely restrain a full-grown elephant by only a single rope tethered to a stake driven into the ground. Obviously, this gigantic elephant could easily break free, but it doesn't. Why? Because this massive elephant full of strength and brimming with life has been restrained by this rope ever since it was a baby. He couldn't break free from the rope then so over time he just accepted this rope as the unchanging truth. There are many things in this life that we accept as the unbending truth--as if carved in stone for all eternity.

The point I'm trying to make is that we don't have to just accept our lots in life. We have the capacity to change and grow. In fact, we have an inborn need to grow and become more. So when someone suggests that because you're older you should just accept your lot in life and give up, you can just tell them to step off. Don't be put out to pasture by anyone. Don't be forced into a pointless life of standing quarters on their sides.

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