Newtonian Physics and the Modern Elder.
The Law of Inertia, also called Newton’s first law, states if a body is at rest or moving at a constant speed in a straight line, it will remain at rest or keep moving in a straight line at constant speed unless it is acted upon by a force. I wonder if Newton was talking about the human condition as well as physical objects.
Why is it that so many of us, in the midst of all the information about human potential, remain either at rest or in constant motion in the wrong direction?
I’ve struggled against this law most of my life. I’ve found three things that get me in motion: Inspiration, aspiration, and desperation. Inspiration is fickle. It doesn’t last. I keep looking for another fix. It has betrayed me many times in the past but I keep returning like a jilted lover. Desperation has always set me in motion because I was running away from something. As soon as that something stopped chasing me, I stopped running.
It has taken me a long time to learn that aspiration is the only sustainable way to overcome the inertia of my life. Running toward something is a more sustainable strategy than running away from something. It’s also much less tiring. As I approach my 80th birthday, I may be walking instead of running, but I’m moving in the right direction. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving."
It would seem that desperation would rule a person who is approaching 80. What does an 80-year old aspire to do? Whatever he or she wants. Mama said we can do whatever we set our mind to do. Mama didn’t say we could do whatever we set our mind to do until we’re x years old. Set our mind! Mama was talking about mindset long before Carol Dweck wrote a book about it. However, at age 80 it might be more like a mind re-set. We need to push that button and go back to the default condition when we left the factory. No preconceived ideas about ourselves, others, or the world. No fear. No concern about what others think about us. We’re filled with wonder, curiosity, and a love for adventure. I think it’s still there even at 80.
I’m grateful that MEA has helped me see these later years of my life as an opportunity for personal growth, happiness, and achievement instead of succumbing to the inertia of our culture. I’m enjoying being pulled into these later years by aspiration instead of being pushed by desperation.
It’s fun having a growth spurt at 80!
Pat Whitty is a certified health coach, workplace wellness consultant, MEA alum (multiple times), and Modern Elder Whisperer from San Antonio, TX.