On the Value of Years

A friend just lost someone very special to her, someone who was a father to her in every way but blood. I have read her touching and often humorous blog posts about her experiences with him, and it was beautiful to see how much love and respect she had for the man, their history together as a family, and his years. Not everyone recognizes the value of years, the cumulative hard-earned wisdom, character, and love collected over a span of a long life. 

I am someone who makes my living by studying and performing not only new music, but music that is hundreds of years old,  New music is challenging, interesting to learn, but I have always valued music with history, with a seasoned past. There is a richness that comes from the music being performed over and over again throughout the years, with each performance adding new understanding, color, and depth to the work. In a culture that values the newest and ‘greatest’, I always laugh when my young students say a pop song is “great” when it’s on the charts for a few weeks and then gone to oblivion as the next “great” song hits the charts. It isn’t that the music doesn’t have worth, but truly great music stands the test of time. I think the same is true of people. 

I grew up with older parents, aunts and uncles, my siblings and cousins were adults or close to it when I was born. I have always been around older people, and have loved them…I have often thought that senior care would have been a career that I would have enjoyed. Seniors have such stories to tell, such great advice to share- they’ve been there and done it. If we will only listen, they have treasures to give us that can deepen our understanding and compassion. Newer- or younger- is not always the best thing. Youth is a fleeting gift, but the wisdom that comes from years and years of life is priceless. 

I am grateful for the old people that I have loved and lost, and those that I am still learning from each day. I cherish the memory of wrinkled hands in mine, and eyes twinkling with experience and mischief. They are not perfect, but their imperfections make them even more real, more interesting, more lovable. I wish for my friend a treasure trove of memories- both the good and the not-so-good that made up the real person. Loving all those parts, loving the person for who they are or were, is the truest love. And as my friend helped me to learn when I lost my mother, love never dies…it goes on and on, forever a part of us. 


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