Sunday, September 27, 2009


I enjoy talking to, and exchanging ideas with people of various ages. Most of the younger ones have dreams. But for a good share of the older ones, the dream has flown.

For many of the youngsters and at least a few of us older folks, some of our best dreams and plans will ever remain in the dream stage. And will never grow and bear fruit, for lack of determination and effort. I think a wise person once said something like: “The formula for success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.”

Some of the younger people will forge ahead and, refusing to be sidetracked, will continue to work their plan until they achieve success. As will a few of the older ones. We have always been told that Colonel Sanders financed his initial Kentucky Fried Chicken shop with his first social security check.

At least a few of the older people I meet have given up the dream. And, sadly, they now spend a lot of their time looking backward and thinking of the way things might have been. They feel that their greatest hopes, dreams, schemes, and plans were smashed or suffocated by unfavorable conditions or circumstances.

Some will feel the full reason for their failure was a personal health problem. Others will point out family or other responsibilities or the lack of a good credit rating. For others, it is the national economy, or a high unemployment rate. For many, it will never be anything other than just an unnaturally long streak of bad luck.

The older we get the easier it becomes to place the blame for our failures on misfortune, or on other people. Without the big, bright dream to fill their hours and days, most retired folks now find plenty of time to focus on advancing age, failing health, and a whole host of unhappy things. Also on current local, national, and worldwide situations and conditions that are definitely not in their control and not to their liking. Too often when we ask an older person what he or she thinks of the Golden Years that question brings a quick and surprisingly sarcastic answer.

But, whether asked or not, we old codgers are usually ready, willing, and able to come up with advice.

The old man sought out the barroom
On a hot, late August day.
He was thin, with sagging shoulders
His long beard shaggy and gray.

The stranger looked the place over,
Said, “I’ve not been here before,
But I’ve seen bars just like this one –
Hundreds, maybe thousands more.”

The bartender said, “You’re lucky,
Gramps, today the first beer’s free
Provided you share your outlook
On life, with my friends and me.”

The old man agreed, then smiled as
He blew the foam from his beer.
He began, “Life’s like a valley
And it’s all uphill from here.

“I have met a lot of people
As I’ve traveled round about,
And like you gents, there are many
Whose hopes are seasoned with doubt.

“When you’re young and growing up you’re
Kind of brassy ‘cause you know
That, later, in grownup life you
Will be the boss of the show.

“But often life has a way of
Giving things a different spin.
The hills that confine life’s valley
Sometimes get you all boxed in.

“If you seek success and fortune,
You must climb life’s steep, long stair.
Take the path of least resistance
And you won’t get anywhere.

“Life hands out nothing for nothing,
Everyone must pay his dues.
If there’s an easy way, I fear
I can’t give you any clues.

“I keep heading up life’s valley,
Up around each turn and bend.
And I’m kind of hoping heaven’s
Just beyond life’s valley’s end.”

As he talked, a large crowd gathered,
Joining those who were there first.
The cash register played a tune
As new patrons slaked their thirst.

The bar owner thanked the old man
And shook his old, withered hand.
Four free beers for entertainment’s
Cheaper than a three-piece band.