And this blog is about age.
When someone would ask Neil’s mother how old she was she would answer, “I’ll forgive you for asking that personal question.”
I even resent a doctor asking my age. That means he has immediately categorized me.
We do want to be perceived as young—that baby-butt smooth skin, how gorgeous is that? No wonder we want it, but who wants to be judged as slow, awkward, ugly, conservative, stupid, or forgetful—or worse yet, “What age did your parents die?” Horrors. Even being victims of our DNA can be changed, so I’ve heard, as genes are constantly turning on or off. Bottom line, we fight to look young, while we ought to be fighting to think young—meaning, of course, forward thinking, innovative, inventive, open to new ideas, and new people. Be a person worth keeping around.
“Look for your mold.”
Scientist Dr. Jonathan Sackner- Bernstein persuades us to “Look for our mold.” He tells the story of one scientist, who daily sorted through his petri- dishes checking specimens—you know where this is going, but the story bears repeating. Dr. Alexander Fleming was 47 when he discovered penicillin. Every day he would check his numerous petri-dishes. If he found that one had turned moldy he chucked it into the trash. One day, a moldy dish looked a little different from the many others he had thrown away, so he put it aside. Later he noticed that the bacteria around the mold had died--thus Fleming discovered one of the first antibiotics. He called it mold juice—I guess Penicillin sounds more scientific.
Bernstein’s point was that this scientist, Dr. Alexander Fleming, at age 47, had the years of experience to discern, the wisdom to trust his intuition, and the training to identify. Unfortunately he was not good at communicating and thus the community didn’t listen to him, even in WWI when he said, accurately, that the antiseptics they were using did more harm than good. He brought in a couple more scientists and eventually the word on penicillin got out.
Too often people use the excuse that they won’t make a difference because they lost their chance, they are too old.
Remember what Richard Back (book Illusions) said, “If you wonder whether your mission on earth is over, if you’re alive, it isn’t.”
Berstein pointed out that even such things as learning to play a musical instrument involves different components than years and years of practice. It involves how you are supported, your attitude, and your innate talent.
“Go boldly in the direction of your dreams.”
If you’re alive having your dreams come true is still an option.
I certainly didn't plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world's first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I suppose that was exactly what I did.”