Cappers Farmer Blogs > Old Dog, New Tricks

That Library Inside You

Mary ConleyDear friends, 

In my last post, “That Person Inside You,” I received several comments from people identifying with the matter of aging. Some were experiencing it, and some had parents who were. It was interesting to share our heartfelt concerns and emotions, and I decided to post a few more thoughts on the subject.

There is an African proverb that says, “When an old person dies, a library burns down.” That statement is so profound, I could have written just it, and sent in my post. But, I want to say that we are starting to relate, only ours is a very small library! When Larry and I bought our hobby farm, we never thought that in only seven short summers, we would be slowing down. We are now 73 and 74, and when I realized what is now happening to us, I made the comment that we have learned so many valuable skills and now we are just going to die, and what a shame!  

carpentry

Larry learning a new skill.

Those words have sometimes become our joke with each other after a new achievement. For example, Larry has been acquiring new carpentry skills. After each completion of a project, he will look at his accomplishment with pride, and I will say, “Look what you’ve learned, and now you’re just going to die! What a waste!”  (Not to mention all the tools purchased!) Some of you may think this is rather sick humor, but for us, it is reality. Not that we are necessarily going to die any time soon, but that our bodies won’t be able to continue the work. 

When I think on the above African proverb, it makes me wonder if “the whole library” really needs to burn down. Perhaps some of it can be saved or preserved by passing on what we have learned. It reminds me of the young couple who came out to the farm to salvage our junk pile. They loved our place and wished that they could have bought it. While giving them the tour and showing them what we’ve accomplished, I told them that we are constantly learning. The young man said, “Well, I know I learn something each time I talk to you.” I thought that was about the best compliment I had ever received.

I’m sure hoping that many of our personal “library books” won’t have to be burned because we’ve already lent them out. For instance, my husband has passed on his books on “How to Love Your Wife” to his boys, and “A Good Work Ethic.” Probably, we’ve lent out books on skills. I’m remembering getting two young neighbor girls and some granddaughters started on crocheting. I’m also thinking about us bloggers for Capper’s Farmer, Grit, and Mother Earth News. As one of my blogger friends told me, “We blog because we are passionate about what we do and want to pass on what we’ve learned.” Most likely, you’ve passed on many skills and words of wisdom to those around you. I just stopped my typing and thought extensively on those whose whole professions are about teaching. What a library passed on! Maybe we should all consider how many “books” we can lend out in our lifetime, or last few years, so they won’t all “burn down.” 

Or one can always lend out the book, “Caution” and use Catherine Aird’s quote: “If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning!”