Wednesday, January 1, 2014

90 years ago

Laura Ingalls Wilder was a wise woman, her words from 90 years ago still ring true today.

As a Farm Woman Thinks, Missouri Ruralist
January 1, 1923

With the coming of another year we are all more or less a year older.  Just what does it mean to us–this growing older?  Are we coming to a cheerful, beautiful old age, or are we being beaten and cowed by the years as they pass?

Bruised we must be now and then, but beaten, never, unless we lack courage.

Not long since a friend said to me, “Growing old is the saddest thing in the world.”  Since then I have been thinking about growing old, trying to decide if I thought her right.  But I cannot agree with her.  True, we lose some things that we prize as time passes and acquire a few that we would prefer to be without.  But we may gain infinitely more with the years than we lose in wisdom, character and the sweetness of life.

As to the ills of old age, it may be that those of the past were as bad but are dimmed by the distance.  Tho old age has gray hair and twinges of rheumatism remember that childhood has freckles, tonsils and the measles.

The stream of passing years is like a river with people being carried along in the current.  Some are swept along, protesting, fighting all the way trying to swim back up the stream, longing for the shores that they have passed, clutching at anything to retard their progress, frightened by the onward rush of the strong current and in danger of being overwhelmed by the waters.

Others go with the current freely, trusting themselves to the buoyancy of the waters knowing they will bear them up.  And so with very little effort they go floating safely along, gaining more courage and strength from their experience with the waves.

As New year after New year comes, these waves upon the river of life bear us farther along toward the ocean of Eternity, either protesting the inevitable and looking longingly back toward years that are gone, or with calmness and faith facing the future serene in the knowledge that the power behind life’s currents is strong and good.

And thinking of these things, I have concluded that whether it is sad to grow old depends on how we face it, whether we are looking forward with confidence or backward with regret.  Still in any case it takes courage to live long successfully, and they are brave who grow old with smiling faces.

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