I have been celebrating my eightieth birthday since the end of October and it seems as though good wishes will continue for a while. Often the wishes come with a question – now that you have been around for eighty years – what have you learned, what advice would you pass along, what mistakes have you made that we might avoid?
Some of these questions are asked with a wry smile – and others are truly interested in my response. Lewis Carroll got it right when he parodied a poem by Robert Southy. That poem is all but forgotten – but the parody named You are Old Father William is here forever. Dive into the middle of the poem with me. The questions and answers in the poem run like this…
“You are old,” said the youth, “And your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak-
How on earth did you manage to do it?”
“In my youth,” said his father, “I took to the law;
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.”
The Carroll poem shows the questions of youth and the responses that age provides.
I thought – I can do this in a game form – and my friends can chime in with their own peculiar brand of wisdom. I call the game INVENTORY. Here’s how it plays.
Rules of the game
Pick any span of years, starting in your own life from the age of 20 or later to your present age For myself, I picked 30 to 80.
Select qualities that you valued at the age you were at the beginning of the span.
How have the values you now cherish evolved over the years in your span?
I’m happy to show you mine whether or not you show me yours. But I’d like to keep expanding what we have learned collectively and individually. Here is my personal inventory.
Hurry up to stay current
Learning about family
Trading time for money
Striving for success
More heart power
Slow down to stay involved
Buying a Hip
Learning about family
Trading money for time
Striving for happiness
In the development of software there were two approaches. The first approach was represented by the proprietary methodology developed by Bill Gates. His efforts resulted in DOS programming and later improvements. If you wanted to use his software, you paid a license fee. The other approach was called “open source.” It was available to anyone who wanted to use it. And there was no fee. Thousands of people improved pieces of open source software, and those improvements were incorporated into the software, again without charge.
What if we shared the values we have come to incorporate into our lives, and perhaps some stories about how those values have served our needs. If you would like to play, list the values that reflect your life and how those values changed or evolved over the time span you selected. If you share them with me, I will post them to the blog on my website – AccidentalSpirituality.com and add them to the inventory I have started.
Author of Accidental Spirituality