Embracing the Age of Wisdom


You've gotten this far -- perhaps farther than you ever thought possible when you first received your diagnosis -- and now you know more about continuing on, helping yourself to handle, in the healthiest ways possible, all the things that getting older with HIV brings.

Perhaps all of the "pros" quoted in this issue are holding the thread of the answer to the question of how you can really embrace your "golden years." Whether they're talking about taking your meds, eating well, staying active, or connecting to others, there is one thing that acts as the glue that holds it all together -- wisdom.

Every choice, "good" or "bad," we make and every experience we have are lessons we can learn from if we choose to and with each lesson comes wisdom. On the way to the day when a cure is found and an "AIDS-free generation" is indeed within reach, it is the accumulated wisdom of our HIV-surviving elders that will provide the lifeboat that will carry the young ones over the rough water.

Maybe a story can illustrate it best: A man named Joe was walking down the street and fell into a manhole. There was no obvious way out -- no ladder, no rope, no handhold -- the only thing he could do was shout for help. As he yelled, "HELP! I'm stuck down here!" a doctor walked by and said, "Sorry, I'm too busy, but here's a prescription," and a slip of paper floated down to the man -- a prescription for anti-anxiety meds. Next, a priest walked by. "Father, can you help me get out of here?" Joe shouted. "No, my son," the priest replied. "I'm on my way to church, but I'll light a candle for you when I get there." The next person who passed was a friend of Joe's. "Hey, Jack! I'm stuck down here and I need your help!" yelled Joe. The next thing he knew, Jack had jumped down into the hole with him. "What the hell do you think you're doing?!" Joe asked. "Now we're BOTH stuck down here!" Jack smiled and said, "Yeah, we are. But I've been here before and I know the way out. Come on, follow me."

If a 27-year-old finds out he or she is HIV-positive and is lucky and resourceful enough to seek out a 60-year-old long-term survivor, they can learn from that elder's wisdom how to survive to the age of 60 and beyond themselves.

So instead of hating every wrinkle or gray hair, cursing the way your knees creak when you get out of bed, or bemoaning those "senior moments" when you can't remember why you went into the kitchen, give yourself the respect and appreciation you've given all the "teachers" in your life. Embrace your age, embrace wisdom, embrace life!