I loved the Olympics opening ceremony: the people, world leaders, history, performance, dazzling technology. My favorite moment, however, was watching the two Russians who ultimately lit the Olympic flame. The man and woman were “older” Olympians and they jogged slowly together as they approached the cauldron. I was teary at the symbol of older adults carrying the torch and passing on tradition to the next generation.
For those of us wrestling with aging, what a beautiful reminder that we have an important place in the lives of younger generations. The questions are, however, what are we passing on; do we take the role seriously; do we sit around complaining that people ignore us? It seems to me, that we too often abdicate our role as torch carriers and let our young people flounder.
I know people who are bitter in their old age, feeling abandoned, alone and useless. I have seen many people die sad and empty. Young people are not going to come to us and say will you carry the torch. We have to proactively find ways to shine the light on them and in doing so, I think that draws them closer.