Insight on Life from My Grandpa

insight on life

My grandpa was an amazing man with incredible insight and experience. He taught me a lot of amazing lessons over the years. I remember one day when I was about ten years old. I was feeling restless, looking for something to do. So my grandpa says, “ Do you want to go out to the shop and build something?” I said “like what?”

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So he says, “Let’s build a radio.” And you know, that’s exactly what we did. It’s funny the things you remember. In fact, when I was in my late twenties, he shared some deep insight with me about human nature that I will never forget. Before I tell you what that was, let me give you some background.

He worked in movies

No, he wasn’t a movie star. He was a cameraman at Paramount Studios way back when. He knew all these famous actors and actresses. On occasion, I got to go with him and watch him work on the movie sets. How cool was that?

After he retired, my grandparents moved to Oregon and that’s where my fascination with the forests of the Pacific Northwest began. We would spend our vacations visiting them and exploring the beautiful countryside.

Time passed and I moved north

Well, I grew up and moved to Oregon. I settled in a place about four hours from where my grandparents lived. It was nice to be able to drive up and visit them several times a year. It was during one of those visits that his insight opened my eyes to something I had never realized.

I was about 30 years old at the time, and I had begun to notice some things about getting older for the very first time. One day we were just sitting there talking, and I explained to him my observations.

Here’s the deal

I told him that, even though I had learned and experienced a lot since I was 18, on one level I really didn’t feel any different at thirty than I had at eighteen. I thought of myself in basically the same way, and yet, some who were 18 years old or so were starting to call me mister, or even sir on occasion (boy have things changed). It was hard for me to relate to this difference.

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He listened intently as I expressed my amazement over the difference between the way I related to myself, and the way others were beginning to see me. I remember telling him that I still felt like I was 18 years old, but with more experience.

Then he laid his insight on me!

He looked me right in the eyes and said, “How do you think it feels to be trapped inside of this?” Wow, what an ah-ha moment that was. He was in his late 70?s with a body that was falling apart, and yet, on some level he still felt like he was 18 years old with lots of experience. He told me that he felt like a young man trapped inside an old man’s body.

A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

I don’t know what I thought it was like to be old, but I definitely didn’t expect that. This conversation caused me to look at life from a whole new perspective. I began to imagine what it must be like to personally relate to yourself as a young person while trying to reconcile the reflection in the mirror. This insight changed my understanding of  human nature and my perception of aging.

More time passed and now I’m beginning to understand

That conversation took place almost three decades ago. As you may have guessed, I still relate to myself as a very experienced 18 year old. The difference is that my mind is starting to write checks that my body can’t cash. I’m still in great shape, but trust me; it’s not the same.

The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection. ~Goethe

So, what can we do with this insight? How can we benefit from knowing that we may someday echo my grandfather’s words when he said: “How do you think it feels to be trapped inside of this”?

The value of this insight about aging

We can clearly see that our strengths at 18 are different than our strengths later in life. At 18 we have (hopefully anyway) boundless physical energy, but very limited experience. Also, our age is more of a chronological issue than one of physical conditioning. Both of these situations will reverse later in life.

Eventually, physical energy will take a back seat to experience, knowledge, insight, and wisdom. As we grow older, our physical age will be determined more by our level of health and fitness, than the number of years we have been alive. We may relate to ourselves as the same person, but these changes are inevitable. This is the kind of insight that gives us the power to alter the way we experience the aging process.

Use this insight to action now and enjoy the ride

When your physical energy begins to wane, you want to have enough mental energy to take its place. The experience, knowledge, insight, and wisdom you acquire over the course of your life will lay the foundation for this transition. It’s vital that you continue to learn about and gain insight and knowledge about the deeper and more meaningful things of life. Never stop learning!

What we need even more than foresight or hindsight is insight. ~Jonathan Wells

It’s also vital that you never ignore your health. Eventually, your quality of life will depend on it. I know healthy people in their 70’s and 80’s who still feel very much alive. I also know unhealthy people in their 40’s and 50’s who feel terrible. Good health is the key to being able to fully enjoy everything else, especially in later years.

Have the insight to see them for who they really are!

This insight should also have an influence on how we view those who are older than we are. They are just like us but with more experience and knowledge. They can’t relate to the aged reflection in the mirror any better than we could. Those lines on their faces are just a road map of their travels and exploits.

Peace of mind happens to a man only after he has developed deep insight. ~Sam Veda

Youth fades, but youthfulness can last a lifetime if you make it a habit to drink in all the goodness that life has to offer. The best way to plan for the future is to live each day with full appreciation, build up your knowledge, insight, and wisdom at every opportunity, and always take care of your health. We’re in this thing for the long haul, we should act like it.

Have some insight on aging you’d like to share?
Have you benefited from the insight of someone older?
The lines are open!

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