There are many notable stories emerging from the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps an under-reported aspect is the remarkable resilience of some older citizens, as evidenced in this New York Times article, "Why So Many Older People Thrive in Lockdown."
Writer John Leland spoke with three New Yorkers, ages 99, 85 and 88. All of them were not only surviving the pandemic but finding ways to thrive during it.
- The 99-year old Sterling Lord, a literary agent who once represented Jack Kerouac and today represents Lawrence Ferlinghetti, is able to work in relative isolation. He says the virus lockdown "has been an inconvenience" because Lord wants to start yet another literary agency and "he cannot hire assistants to get the new agency going."
- Historian Janet Wasserman, 85, is doing research via the Internet. She has a healthy perspective on the situation, telling Leland, "If you haven't lived as long as I have you might think this was the worst thing that ever happened. But people who know history know the difference."
- Theater professor and director Gordon Rogoff, 88, is happily catching up on his reading. He says, "I’m recovering some sense of space and time that’s been lost in the hectic arrangements in which we live on a daily basis."
In the article, Leland quotes Gary M. Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center and professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Kennedy says "pessimism and anxiety tend to abate with age. [Older people are] no longer striving for material achievements, so what matters to them now is what's emotionally satisfying. They're more likely to say, I've been through this before."
I find it encouraging that these elders have adopted such a positive outlook during a time of global crisis. While the pandemic has turned life upside down for all of us, they seem to be far better at coping with the effects of this virus than others. In contrast, younger folks are very anxious and upset. They are impatient to restart their lives. Of course, their anxiety is totally justified, but one gets the feeling that many of them may not take the social distancing precautions necessary when restrictions are eased. We've already seen a flagrant disregard by some people for guidelines intended to protect all of us.
Nothing can beat the wisdom of experience and the perspective of age. It's sad that our society generally derides elders instead of honoring them. Sterling Lord, Janet Wasserman and Gordon Rogoff offer us a much-needed lesson in resiliency.
HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.