Some things are better left unsaid. This is not one of them. In this entry I want to share my observations about older folks being dinosaurs.
What got me started on this semi-rant was a recent experience: Hearing a competent, active and admired older leader wonder whether he had become a dinosaur in his chosen profession. I started asking myself the same question. My YES/NO answer: I may be like a dinosaur, but am NOT extinct.
First, the YES: God created dinosaurs, considering each act of creation as good. So dinosaurs must be good. For eons, these terrible lizards were at the top of the planet’s biological hierarchy. I was also created by God, so must also be part of God’s goodness. For a period of time, people like me and this other leader held influential, useful roles in our professions.
Turning these long-departed creatures into a pejorative metaphor seems logical: Some elders are like dinosaurs—they aren’t around anymore. (Or we don’t see them because we don’t pay attention to them.) The elephants in this room? The unspoken, kindest way we can think of elders is that they’re irredeemably outdated.
To my NO: A gigantic prehistoric asteroid messed up this planet so badly that these marvelous dinosaurs were completely destroyed. But there hasn’t been any large-scale disaster that has wiped out older people like me. No circumstance or event has been large enough to have eliminated us. We are not extinct.
It’s possible that we’re not outdated, either. It may seem that elders totter along behind historical leading edges—that the present contexts have passed them by. What may also be true: Historical cycles repeat themselves. What seems outmoded or extinct will again be at the front edge soon enough. Unlike dinosaurs, older leaders are waiting and ready to take up our place in the future.
There. I think I’ve acknowledged this particular elephant in the room, and can go back to feeling good about being an elder who’s capable of being (and not being) a dinosaur.
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