80 and Wondering About Life and Society

Grampa Ken muses on social ills, consumerism and values, happiness and the good life.

If this is the era of plenty and so much for so many, why are millions living in poverty or starving? As we gobble up natural resources and dump massive amounts of waste into our environment, why do we work so hard at competing for yet more of so much? That we don't need! Why are the big free enterprise machines permitted to promote and expand this social phenomenon? Mesmerized, we strive and stress to comply with their mandate. We are programmed.

So as another year passes I'm still wondering; what the heck are we doing with society, our planet and the people on it? What are we leaving for future generations?

Something is very wrong with our social structure and behavior. We've come a long way from the caveman days but our advancements in achieving the good life seem to have crested a while back. So many facets of society have become faster, tenser and somewhat nastier, and commerce has been the big influence.

But personally life is good depending on one's sense of values, and I am optimistic about seeing a sensible and just civilization ahead, somewhere. It will take some huge changes in the way we do business, treat the poor and value simplicity and peaceful lifestyles over materialistic 'achievements'. But we can do it and we will do it. I know there is a lot of talk going on out there at this time; particularly on the internet as many are concerned and beginning to get involved in speaking out for change.

Anyway birthday boy has some comments about arriving at the big 77.

I'm enjoying my retired relaxed life and my most valuable assets - my family. A loving wife, two perfect kids and two wonderful grandkids. WOW!

Sure we are faced with much bad NEWS, but we've always had bad news stories. There are just more people here now, and then there's the shock and sensationalism delivered daily by the media guys who are making the most of what will get consumer attention and earn them a bit more profit.

But looking positively, lots of nice things happen most days as I turn another page.

I feel good when I pass a 100 year senior uptown who makes a point to catch my eye, so as to exchange smiles. I imagine their many years of the good life with nice friends and family, problems that were handled wisely and in a kind and positive attitude. And no guilt as they probably buried negative experiences long ago, as we all should.

Often I get a pleasant greeting or a polite gesture from a teenager. Even a rough looking kid will likely return a smile if you just give one first, as with mostly people. He only looked a bit unfriendly - he had a lot on his mind. I remember.

Who benefits most, the giver or the receiver of a friendly expression? Perhaps it's a draw.

A while back I was picking up a small bouquet of flowers at the supermarket; it wasn't Valentines Day and it was early morning, about 8:30am. As I walked to the store entrance a very old gent about 90-100 came out slowly. He was in sports coat and tie and carrying a small bouquet of flowers. I wondered if he was heading for some happy or sad moments. Either way, lots of lovely memories, I'm certain of that.

There are some disadvantages to aging and one of the most common is a weakened memory system. A blank can pop up at any moment, such as a person's name, and can be embarrassing unless you have given up getting embarrassed. There is one thing that I constantly forget; I can't remember just what but it's no big deal anyway. A doctor told me that this is a common problem as you get older, offered up some suggestions and concluded that I was actually OK - for a guy my age. But I'm not too sure what a veterinarian should know about my mental well-being anyway.

Eye floaters, objects and dots that reside in the field of vision for awhile, are common. Last week I chased fruit flies around the kitchen with no luck and am not sure there were any.

Creativity may not lessen so much as many think. Just this year I perfected a way to save water. By gradually pressing the handle on the toilet it can perform its flush function exactly when there is just enough water, without using an extra drop, without discharging the tank! I know - put a brick in it, but sometimes you need the full contents.

And I've come up with some great suggestions just recently.
To my Credit Union: You have a notice on your ATM "DON'T FORGET YOUR CARD." Well how about adding "Don't forget your money." I was just a bit embarrassed about the time I took my card and left the $200 cash behind. But thanks to Coast Capital anyway for finding it for me; you guys have always been tops. Do you know the machine sucks the money back in if you don't take it? If nobody else is there to grab it that is!

To the Minister of Highways. I have been wondering why your freeway has provided a 'FAST LANE' for those reckless maniac drivers that often point to heaven as they pass me. So they can go even faster? Well how about a SLOW lane so us older guys, who know all about life and relaxation, can check out the scenery and enjoy a peaceful ride into town?

Ah so many pluses in reaching a ripened age! People sometimes tell me that I'm looking good and I of course return the compliment. And there are hardly any rerun movies on TV anymore - anything I haven't seen for a year is all new. And there is so much more...

Regrets? I once had a lot but no more. Guilt? I would be burdened with them, but only if I ever stopped to think about them again and I won't! Being a senior is a time when you are able to say; "I don't care" about certain problems. Problems that weren't even problems or those that I couldn't do anything about. So many worries never really materialize or fade away quickly anyway.

Life can be good whatever your age so don't just sit around watching TV. Get up and about, but relax and don't rush. Be positive and friendly. Read and learn to improve your well being. Develop and follow healthy eating habits. Sleep well!

Every season hath its pleasures;
Spring may boast her flowery prime,
Yet the vineyard's ruby treasures
Brighten Autumn's soberer time.
Thomas Moore (1779-1852)

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Photo: Elderly couple enjoying scenery at Crescent Beach BC.

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