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Image by Clay Banks on Unsplash.

A well-known writer titles a column: A Superpower of Old Age: Powerlessness.

She writes about her difficulties getting up off the floor, in case we don’t realize she’s old. (Actually she’s pushing 70. No reason why she can’t learn some basic exercises.)

 Then she gets into the Real Stuff. She says that any loved one’s anger will feel “life-threatening” at first.

“But then,” she goes on to say, “if you are old, you remember countless other falling-outs…where peace was restored…when you’re young and vigorous, convinced that you are powerful, you have the energy to try to self-will your problems into submission, and it usually makes them worse…”

Sometime around age 60, she says, “you’ve learned to surrender.”

But why do we surrender at age 60? Or at any age? How do you feel when you say, “I surrender?”

Some friends are best discarded at any age. Other people will be angry for a long time. Sometimes you’re the one who’s angry. This is life, at any age.

They’re always late to a meeting? Give them a new time. They cancel at the last minute? Don’t buy them tickets to anything and always make alternative plans.

And what if it’s not about being friends? What if you get past sixty (or 50 or 70), and you don’t want to stop being angry?  You might pick your battles better.  But you’ll still fac battles.

Some battles are worth fighting.

I keep fighting the medical establishment. Sometimes it feels like tilting at windmills. I still don’t understand why we have rude receptionists, ruder technicians, and loud music in medical waiting rooms. None of those things help my sanity and make it impossible to check blood pressure accurately (not that medical people care about accuracy: they just want to put something into the forms). 

I’m fortunate and I know it: I can remove people from my life if they’re too annoying. But setting boundaries means getting tough about asking for what you want. It’s not about surrender. 

People get it. Nobody’s called me to patch up an argument. If somebody’s hurt they can do one of two things. They can decide they’ll never speak to me again. Or they can look past this slight (which they probably imagined) and continue the friendship. 

It’s not about getting older. It’s about having other things to worry about. When you don’t have enough other things in your life, you start worrying about why you weren’t invited to that wedding, why you were invited but your plus-one wasn’t, why that person said something unkind, and more. 

Surrender is not only useless. It’s dangerous.

Once you start saying, “There’s nothing I can do about it,” you are on the way out. If it’s important, you care. If not, you shrug and move on. 

Age has nothing to do with it.