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Max Roytenberg

Max Roytenberg: Why Listen to Grandpa?

by Max Roytenberg, November 25, 2017


I, like many of you out there, am the beneficiary of a demographic trend consequent on advancing technology in the health field. Being well beyond the traditional three score and ten, with the younger cohort, we oldsters are rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with in democratic societies. Leave aside that our ranks have been thinned by the departure of many of our remembered contemporaries, we are still out there pitching.


Sixty is now the new forty, seventy is the new fifty, and so on. This is new to the human drama. Coupled with the fantastic explosion of planetary connectedness, and interpersonal ease of communication, knowing what is happening in each other’s lives to a degree never before experienced by the human race, we have a louder voice.


The airwaves are full of content. Millions are sending forth their thoughts, views, photo images, whathaveyou, to an unprecedented degree. We can only expect more of the same with each passing moment. Even with all the stuff we see in print, we are being swamped by the messages we receive in electronic form.  I and my companions are adding our widow’s mite to the flow.


We who write do this because we can, because we believe that what we have to say is worth the attention of another human being. We do this because we feel driven to express the visions, the emotions, to recount the experiences that we feel are unique to us. When we touch something universal, our messages can go viral and reach millions who never before knew of our existence. What a trip!


I believe I have some advantages in this contest that are not available to some others. I have survived for longer than most with much of my mental capacity still in operating condition. I have fathered children with the cooperation of sundry wives. (The wives part is indeed an untold tale. We are not asking them to tell their side of it in this piece.) I have travelled here and there to places safe and less safe. I have done my share of doing without, and doing better. And I am able to put sentences together with some facility. Could it not be that I have something useful to say to my fellow humans?


More than anything, having a few added rings to my trunk has given me the possibility of developing some perspective regarding my experiences. There is the danger, nevertheless, that there is no fool like an old fool. Some would say there is ample evidence that I have exhibited proof in that respect. Regardless, I soldier on, heedless of my infirmities.


There may be lessons to be learned by others who are following similar tracks. It may be that there is something there for younger specimens grappling with life’s challenges. My words may confirm for a wide range of my contemporaries unarticulated feelings about their own life experiences that they have not yet put together for themselves. I may reveal for others that they are not alone in the trials and triumphs they have faced. What a comfort airing these matters can be! I know because I have appreciated such in reading the words of others.


I write of my experiences because I enjoy the exercise of my verbal muscles. I write because I cannot help myself even if I am the only one who reads my words. I write for an audience wherever it can be found in the hope of generating a responsive chord. I glory in the responses I receive that show that, for some people, what I have had to say struck close to the mark.


I write because I dream that what I have to say may encourage others to take up the proverbial pen. I write because of ego. I write because, like many of my fellow humans, there is an unconscious hunger in us that the whole world should love us the way our mothers did. I write because there is the egotistical belief that I have something worthwhile to say. I write because I believe that there are actually some things in my life experience worth sharing, and from which someone else could learn and benefit.   


Events appear so very different with the perspective of time passed. Hindsight is always 20/20, they say, but can’t we do better with what we have learned in the future? We can evaluate with this perspective what we should have foreseen, what should have been our more promising priorities. Lessons may be learned about more productive attitudes and more effective responses to future events. Could my errors be an avenue to better futures in others’ lives? Shouldn’t I be willing to expose my stupidities and blunders if that would be useful? What may appear to be possible wisdom on my part is probably evidence of mistakes I made in my past. Why make the same mistakes?


Then there is the reality that the world around us is changing like a whirlwind. Who knows if our generation, opining from our comfortable armchairs, can have anything relevant to say to those who are beginning to take their places on the stage? Theirs is a world we already have difficulty comprehending. Those who are still wielding the levers of power have little room on their crowded agendas for the voices coming from off-stage, even if they are disinterested? Their attention is on the shouts, the loud voices, of those with an axe to grind.


Hear ye, Hear ye! Hear me! Can you hear me now?





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