OVER THE HILL WHEN YOU HAVEN’T BEEN AT THE TOP by Harold Sala

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“The trouble with being over the hill,” quipped one pundit, “is that I can’t remember ever being at the top.” A lot of folks can relate to that. When that nebulous divider of life arrives about age 40 they panic, thinking that from then on, they are on the downhill run.

The Royal Bank of Canada monthly newsletter described it, saying, “It is a time that policemen start looking young to you, and you find yourself in the midst of a party wishing you were home in bed. It is when you cannot recall the name of the girl or boy you once loved madly, and when you meet young grown ups you knew as babies. It is when you conclude, like George Bernard Shaw, that youth is wasted on the young.”

A long time ago, Francis Bacon wrote in his Regimen of Health, “Age will not be defied,” yet in recent years better nutrition and preventive medicine have done a great deal to defy age and to lengthen the life span of the average man or woman. Worldwide, the average male today lives to over age 71, his female counterpart to age 73, and if you split the life span down the middle you would have to say that a woman would be in her middle years at age 37 and a male at age 35, yet this hardly coincides with our common understanding of the middle years.

Another fact of life, seldom considered by those who are fearful of the middle years, is that most of life’s greatest accomplishments are made not in the exuberance of youth when our bodies are beautiful and strong, but in the prime of the middle years when we have learned the lessons of youth and can apply our hearts to the wisdom of middle age.

“It should not be overlooked,” says the Royal Bank of Canada monthly letter, “that most of the great achievements in history, in philosophy, statecraft, science, and the arts, have been by people from the ages of 40 to 70. This makes it puzzling that middle age should so often be regarded as a period of mental, as well as physical decline. The best available scientific evidence on the functioning of the human brain suggests that what middle aged people lack in intellectual adaptability they make up in knowledge and understanding. A British researcher recently investigated the productivity of deceased artists, scientists and scholars in 16 different fields of endeavor. The most productive ages were from 40 to 50 in almost all these groups. In only one field, chamber music, did the greatest productivity come earlier. Not until the age of 60 did the mathematicians included in the study hit their productive peak.”

As my wife and I had breakfast in a coffee shop, a little woman about 80 years of age came in and sat down across from us. She was withered and her skin was wrinkled like a hand which had been soaked in hot water for two hours, yet she had a sparkle in her eye and a pleasant smile which caused the wrinkles of age to disappear.

I could not help but be reminded of Isaiah 40, which may refer to the three periods of life when the prophet said, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.” (KJV) In youth we mount up with wings as eagles; in our middle years we may run and not be weary; and as we wait upon Him in our final years, we can walk and not faint.

Resource Reading: Psalm 46

Text: For this God is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end. Psalm 48:14

GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – May 9, 2017