A two-way street | VailDaily.com

A two-way street

I have a suggestion for a commentary, the foul language of the 20-somethings that ride the bus. Often they are sporting Vail employee caps, backpacks, etc. Is this the image that Vail Associates wants to portray to visitors? Living part time in Vail, I am embarrassed for the community. Ride the bus system to see what I am talking about, and if you think there might be some merit to this issue.

Since I’m always looking for topics of interest, I decided to take a few rides on the bus to observe this for myself. I took three round-trip bus rides (hardly the makings of a valid survey). But after witnessing the behavior, I concurred with the woman’s observations.

Last year I wrote a commentary about safety on the mountain and made reference to the fact that the problem centered on the attitudes of younger males. While it’s blatantly unfair to single out young men again, it certainly appears that quite a few of them want to be singled out.

Yet there is an obverse side of that coin. We “older folks” tend to talk about the duties, responsibilities and behavior of young people, but sometimes we forget that we too have duties and responsibilities.

While most us are cognizant of our familial, social and financial responsibilities, many of us forget that it’s also our responsibility to become more like peaches on the inside while we’re becoming more like prunes on the outside. As we grow older, it’s our responsibility to become wiser, more tolerant, funnier and more perceptive to compensate for life’s inexorable aging process.

Older people whose personalities become more cantankerous and brittle with each passing year are not enjoyable to be around. There is no nice way to say it because in many cases they’re just a pain in the butt. It’s dismaying when people get more cynical as they get older. It’s sad to see “oldsters” develop a hardening of their social and psychological arteries. It doesn’t need to be that way.

The saying goes that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But I disagree, and at the ripe old age of 57, I find myself learning a lot about life whenever I pay attention. Men and women who manage the aging process gracefully project a unique appeal and charm that only those who have gained the wisdom of age can possess.

It’s a privilege to spend time with a happy, kind and gentle older person. Fortunately, I’ve met quite a few since moving to the valley and have had the pleasure of working with several at the ski school.

What many of us fail to realize is that young people have a natural affinity for oldsters, provided the oldsters remember what it’s like to be young. This does not mean trying to emulate the culture of youth in language or dress – whenever anyone close to 40 tries to imitate the young, they only make themselves look foolish. Besides, youthful fashion and language changes so rapidly that that it’s impossible to keep pace and even sillier to try.

People in their 60s, 70s and 80s who have mastered the process of being childlike yet wise, spirited and supportive, and more willing to learn than to advise, are truly blessed and a gift to us all. They’ve reached a point in life where they are able to focus on what’s really important without getting caught up in the daily nuances of life that supposedly “put us on track,” which metaphorically speaking allows us to travel only where the rails take us.

Maybe part of our responsibility is to become models for young people to observe and emulate while resisting the ravages of age that form many curmudgeons who grow rigid.

Truly wise and happy men and women have integrated their experiences from youth through middle and into old age, and have become more complete personalities and gentler souls.

Youthful exuberance and unbridled enthusiasm is a joy to behold. It reminds me of George Bernard Shaw’s quote dating back some 90 years: “It’s all that the young can do for the old, to shock them and keep them up to date.”

Perhaps we old fogies need to be shocked once in a while; but perhaps without the use of language quite so graphic or behavior quite so offensive. It is a two-way street.

Butch Mazzuca of Singletree writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at bmazz@centurytel.net

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