Knowing What Aging Means

If we live long enough, we know what aging means. It’s not what we are told or read, but us being old and the experience is not a pleasant one. Does the caregiver want to be cared for? Does the reader enjoy not being able to see the print on most pages? Does needing help to dress sound welcoming? Does forgetting your recent thoughts bring smiles to your face? Where is the joy of getting old when travel demands too much? And, of course, there’s much more that does not lend itself to what we refer to as “good times.”

I can go on and on listing what old age brings, and I am certainly one of the lucky ones. At 96, I sleep well, eat well, write essays daily, walk, breathe on my own, remember events with clarity, and still love and look forward to dialoguing with old and good friends. So, at least for me, old is still old, but a remarkably slow decline is my good fortune. To be clear, I’m thrilled to still be around with my Lenette and would like it to continue for as long as possible while I am not a burden. 

So, age is what it is, and problematic to boot. This is compared to what we had when we were just a bit younger. Or put in another way, being old can be a sudden happening or a slow walk up a steep hill.

Is there preparation for old age? I don’t think so. We may read, hear, see, and talk about it, but being there is the only way to know. A lonely journey that every person who lives long enough will experience. Being part of a community of individuals walking their path alone is helpful. No question, we each know this. 

So, our younger family, friends, and associates can and do help by accepting our reality and helping when it is obvious that we need assistance. Also, it’s important not to make us feel older and less able. If we are lucky, we know our situation… Unless that, too, is gone.


Free Will and Unenlightened Power

Over the last almost 12 years, I have written much on power. Why?  I retired as a teacher/mentor to bright, high-achieving, and powerful people. I had to become a student of power and leadership to understand their behavior, and in the process, I discovered myself as one of them. In my 27 years as a leader of my organization, I never looked in the mirror or asked what kind of leader I was. I just led, as did those I eventually began to work with. So, as I educated others to know who they were, I was also learning more about who I was. 

On our journey of mutual growth, leadership and staff learned and experienced the amazing results that occur when becoming open and vulnerable.  That is the point I keep making and probably will as long as I can write my essays.

On the other hand, unenlightened power is at the root of the world’s problems. Those who weld it have the ability to destroy not just a country but the world and civilization as we know it. I’ve been writing about free will and power, and my conclusion is that if people who are blinded by power choose, we are all dust. This isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. Throughout history, millions have died for this “love” of power and will likely continue to do so. 

I have no answer to this possibility. We live our lives, and in so doing, we either give in to power or don’t. I have had difficulty with power since I was a child. My approach was to fight it face-to-face if necessary. Even as an old man writing essays, I still do.

Power is a word—Not in the hands of people—It is a “potential.”


Power and Potential

So, if the power to be one ‘s self is what free will is about, power is potential and not a part of what we see and feel but of our being. And if we are not, then we allow others to use their power over us. I am saying that others do not rule us because they are better, smarter, or richer than us but because we create the vacuum and events that allow them to rule or exercise power over us.

Let me be clear; this is not about what others do to us but what we allow them through circumstances. Examples abound. I need to be born; in the process, my parents have awesome power over my existence. From my beginning at birth, they have power over me, and if I arrive at my new world in reasonably good shape. From this time on, I slowly began to sense and use my own power. I learn this through tears and other means, but I do learn that I have the power to move my parents to action, whether feeding, cleaning, etc. My bodily functions reveal to me that I have power, and my parents and I are educating each other.

As I age, I learn. My education may begin between my mother and her breast. Nor does my education ever cease except when I sleep, and maybe not then. My education expands to family and others, at pre-school, and more. I am inundated with new experiences, and I become more of myself. I sense and may even know of my power and free will. I use both because I may not yet be aware that my power has limitations. It is mine and not me imposing it on others. I must learn this, but many do not, and hence this love and need to exert power over others. My power and free will make for a complex set of problems for me and others in my life. We are each ourselves and who we are driven to be. 

Power and Free Will

I repeat myself, but please know that what I write is not “gospel.” It is purely my opinion(S), I express. I am a naive student of religion only because I seek to better understand power and leadership. I see the Bible as a resource, as I do so many other books and authors.  

So, the Biblical stories of Adam and Eve and Job I see as power issues. God gives power to Adam & Eve to make their own decisions about how to live their lives. With Job, God relents, leaving Job free to be Job and to live his life without God’s intervention.

I view both stories as ones regarding power. God gives power to all humans to be and live as each decides for themselves. Meaning that God will not interfere in the decisions humans make. Events, as they occur, are for humans to deal with. Like the story I have told about the man on his roof in a flood refusing life-saving assistance because he believes the God that he so believes in will somehow save his life. He drowns and is angry when he meets St Peter, who calmly reminds him that “God sent 5 boats, and you refused them all… Next!”

My read is that power is the issue and that God has given each and every one of us the freedom and power to be all and anything we choose to be. God does not give power to anyone to be and have power over another. that power is to be sought, fought, and to die for is a man-made concept.

The world may not survive because of humanity’s love and lust for power.  History speaks loudly and clearly about this issue. Millions upon millions of humans have suffered and died as a result of the drive to be powerful over others. It is even a problem in many families, in the way many classroom teachers teach and in the ways a leader leads.


Free Will

What follows will be interesting for me because I’m exploring some thoughts I’ve had. I will let my thoughts on the subject of free will dictate what I write.

Whether you believe in God, sit on the fence, or do not believe is okay with me. You choose your way and belief systems, and I choose mine. And perhaps that’s the point of this essay, but let’s see…

I used the Old and New Testaments years back when I needed to know as much about power and leadership as possible. I was amazed at the stories and references to power and leadership. For example, In The “Garden of Eden,” Adam and Eve were told by God not to eat the fruit of the tree. They decided to do their own thing and ate the fruit anyway. Before that, they were unashamedly naked. After eating the fruit, they now had to cover themselves. Students of the Bible believe That when Adam and Eve followed their own desires and ignored the words of God, this was the beginning of free will.

And then there is the story of Job. God wanted to test Job’s love of God and brought terrible stuff on him to test Job’s faith and love of God. Satan challenged God with, “why do you do what you do to such a good man as Job?”

“Enough!” said God. “I, henceforth, will leave man alone and to his own ways.”

So, what do I think “Freewill” implies? Please keep in mind I am nowhere near a student of the Bible, only an interested reader seeking to know more about power and leadership.


More on Writing

In the previous essay, I tried to explain my reason for writing. The essay seems to fit me in so many ways, but mostly, I enjoy the challenge of saying something meaningful and making it easy to read and digest. When it does come together, I’m good and hope the reader is “good” with what they read! Today I’d like to write about my 3rd book, Events Dictate; my hopes for it and that the reader finds value in it and recommends it far and wide.

I have studied power, leadership, and consequences that come from being a “good” leader and not so good a leader for 35 years, and still enjoy reading the stories found in the Bible, Philosophy, Psychology, and History. In fact, as recently as last night, I had a wonderful conversation with one of my dear resident friends, a former minister. He knows his Bible. I remain a student.

Events Dictate has a few stories about my many “serendipitous” experiences, but it is mostly a teaching journey. So even in stories about animals or our other experiences, there is either a pure lesson or suggested lessons on Leadership and the way a leader uses their power in significant relationships.

Whether as a child, student, worker bee, or a follower of a particular religion, there are leaders in our life.  The philosopher Emanuel Kant writes of God as being at the top of a pyramid and the moral, ethical person being at one corner, and the unethical, evil person occupying the other corner. Kant also writes of “Freewill,” and although his God is at the top (All-powerful), God does not use His awesome power to control and interfere with humans. Why? Events Dictate points out that each human has the power to choose their own way and not to be pawns to others that love to use power to control. 

Do events dictate? – Many do and many, no—Follow you, not me


Why I Write

Why do I write one-page essays? As a teacher, I always enjoyed dialogue. I liked the interaction between me and a student or students. As a leader of young college students and newbie teachers, I wanted and facilitated dialogue between me and anyone who dared to join me in seeking clarity and understanding. 

When I worked with professionals and entrepreneurs, I wanted and, in fact, needed dialogue. Is there a better way than dialogue if “leveling the playing field” is important? Is there a better way to teach than via dialogue? I DO NOT THINK SO. 

Genuine dialogue is never easy to reach if long-winded speeches are the lecturer’s way. Not in my kitchen. I intuitively knew that participation brings about understanding or questions. Questions open so much more than a teacher’s expectations. And this may be why dialogue is as rare as it is and why I have worked diligently since 2010 to become a single-page essay writer. 

When I held national workshops, travel became so difficult that I would be in an exhausted state for a week following a week of work. I loved the preparation, workshops, and mostly the people I worked with, but it was travel and not work that was wearing me down. Still, I needed to find a way to continue my education. The subjects were enticing and, to me, far from being understood.

I’m a talker, a storyteller, a folksinger, and maybe a fair leader and teacher. But writer? University is where I did my writing, on request and tests, but not voluntarily. I had to remake myself into a good writer, so I began to write.  My first book, Leadership, Power & Consequences, was given birth from the true stories I wrote about. My newest book, Events Dictate is now available exclusively on Amazon.


My Camp Philosophy in the Classroom

In the 50s, I worked for the Los Angeles Board of Education. At any time, I would be called upon to hold a concert and be a folksinger, or storyteller, open a counseling office in an Elementary school, or (and this I enjoyed the most) take over a troubled classroom of 6th graders. 

The principal was thrilled to have me take over a 6th-grade group of out-of-control 6th graders. They were bright and difficult individuals brought together due to a history of indifferent behavior. The assignment was to be their teacher until they left for Junior High.  These 6th graders ruled the elementary school and playground.

Within minutes of introducing myself as Mr.” O,” the recess bell rang, and 25 boys and girls rushed for the doors, pushing and crowding each other. The two doors were locked by me when I entered the room, so the rush came to an unmovable wall. I quietly said, “sit down,” and they (with murmuring) did. I said, “stand up!” followed in seconds by, “sit down. Is this how you want to spend your recess?” I asked. There was a minute or two of silence, and I said, “line up!”

All 25 went to the doors and quietly formed a line, making room for anyone to move in. They filed out and played for about 30 minutes, and when called, they quickly lined up.  When seated, we talked about what they expected from school and me. I told them they could call me “Sy” in class but “Mr. O.” outside our room.  They never failed to do so. We built an entire city on a 4×8 piece of plywood with freeways and parks as a group project. Individuals went to the project whenever they finished classwork. Also, those who did well in math, reading, etc., became mentors to those with problems. And when their classmates did well, they were given public awards for their help. They became a community and grew to hate weekends.  Why? Because of the “caring for each other” philosophy.


The Leader That Needs to Be Liked

Any leader that has needs to be liked, admired, respected is in serious trouble, not only as a leader but as a person. When I was a leader I cannot remember, nor believe that I ever cared if any of my employees liked me or not. What ruled my behavior was the task at hand. If this meant instructing or admonishing an employee, I did what had to be done without any consideration for whether they liked me or not. I never knowingly embarrassed someone that I worked with. If I did, it was never intentional.

Frankly, if a leader is caught in the trap of “like/dislike,” they are unable to lead since if “events are to dictate,” that consideration will crowd out what is required or demanded.  It is a character flaw that diminishes one’s ability and value as a leader.

How does any leader that needs to be “liked”’ act? First, they are likely unsure of themselves, insecure in their leadership role, and even the work they do. In any case, they fail as a leader regardless of how they might succeed as an individual in any profession. 

Be sure, this is not true in many types of work people do. Teachers and parents must be secure in themselves. Any insecurity that emanates from any party in a relationship is problematic. Any ambiguity will be communicated.

We all want to be liked, but we should not let it affect our relationships.    

Being liked? Yes!—All humans need this, to be—But not at a cost.