Have I Become Useless?

What does a man my age have to offer the trend-setting generation?

Sir William Osler, in an address given at Johns Hopkins University in 1905, declared men over the age of 60 to be useless. "My second fixed idea is the uselessness of men above 60 years of age, and the incalculable benefit it would be in commercial, political, and professional life, if, as a matter of course, men stopped work at this age."

His remarks created an international furor. An influential physician, Osler was 56 years of age at the time. I don't know if he followed his own advice.

Since I am one year into Uselessness, I have been tempted to feel uncool, outdated, and passed-by. Even in the church, the attention and the agenda is directed by people well under the age of 40. One wonders if Osler was more a prophet than a crank. The race does go, it seems, to the swift and the young.

But I don't need the sight of younger, edgier leaders to feel that way. My body and consciousness whisper their own insults and accusations. When I was young, I clenched my fists and wept when I read Dylan ...

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