STAYING COOL

orthodox undergradsSeniors are still the cool upper classmen in life.

It’s too bad that the media-engendered connotation of the word “senior” evokes derisive references to aches and pains, early bird dinners and slowing body functions.

When someone apologizes for the derailment of a train of thought, saying, “I’m having a senior moment,” they don’t mean they’re trying on a mortar board cap and planning a prom date with their sweetie.

In high school and college, how I envied the seniors. As I was a nervous neophyte in school, just making my own way, the seniors knew the way. Why, of course they were confident and self-possessed; they had more experience in life and in that setting. If the cool seniors were generous with their time and were willing to share their knowledge with us younger under classmen, we were fortunate to have the advantage of those who came before us.

I don’t believe that youth is wasted on the young. I have the example of older family members, one living, and some departed, who set examples for me by modeling a tendency to embrace worthwhile knowledge of Jewish and secular sources into their 70s, 80s and 90s. They also have modeled senses of humor, cautioning me not to lose mine.

More knowledge and a sharp, enduring sense of humor. It doesn’t get cooler than this as we age.

Just as we looked up to the seniors in school as venerated keepers of the keys to a good life, I would love to see senior-aged people more widely regarded as great company when we extend invitations for Shabbat and Yom Tov meals.

And for those of us who already are seniors or just seniors in training (junior seniors?), let’s be careful to be the kind of person others enjoy having around.

I’m far from perfect at this, but I aim to kvetch less and stay off topics that are morbid. As a rabbi’s wife, I am faced with serious life issues that must be treated with sensitivity and sobriety.

And that’s true of everyone who has experienced enough life through one’s own and others’ journeys.
That’s better than a date for the prom.

ELLEN FISCHER IS A CONTRIBUTING WRITER TO JLIFE MAGAZINE.

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