Amy Rees Anderson

The Wisdom of Years

A man, whom I have tremendous respect for, shared a poem he wrote himself over the course of many years of his life, starting when he was 68 years old and finishing it at the age of 88.  It tells a fantastic message of why we should embrace the process of growing older, as growing older is what brings us wisdom in our life.

THE THINGS I KNOW

I had a thought the other night,
A thought profound and deep.
It came when I was too worn down,
Too tired to go to sleep.
 
I’d had a very busy day
And pondered on my fate.
The thought was this:
When I was young, I wasn’t 68!
 
I could walk without a limp;
I had no shoulder pain.
I could read a line through twice
And quote it back again.
 
I could work for endless hours
And hardly stop to breathe.
And things that now I cannot do
I mastered then with ease.
 
If I could now turn back the years,
If that were mine to choose,
I would not barter age for youth,
I’d have too much to lose.
 
I am quite content to move ahead,
To yield my youth, however grand.
The thing I’d lose if I went back
Is what I understand.
 
Ten years later, I decided to add a few more lines to that poem:
 
Ten years have flown to who knows where
And with them much of pain.
A metal hip erased my limp;
I walk quite straight again.
 
Another plate holds neck bones fast—
A wonderful creation!
It backed my polio away;
I’ve joined the stiff-necked generation.
 
The signs of aging can be seen.
Those things will not get better.
The only thing that grows in strength
With me is my forgetter.
 
You ask, “Do I remember you?”
Of course, you’re much the same.
Now don’t go getting all upset
If I can’t recall your name.
 
I would agree I’ve learned some things
I did not want to know,
But age has brought those precious truths
That make the spirit grow.
 
Of all the blessings that have come,
The best thing in my life
Is the companionship and comfort
I get from my dear wife.
 
Our children all have married well,
With families of their own,
With children and grandchildren,
How soon they all have grown.
 
I have not changed my mind one bit
About regaining youth.
We’re meant to age, for with it
Comes a knowledge of the truth.
 
You ask, “What will the future bring?
Just what will be my fate?”
I’ll go along and not complain.
Ask when I’m 88!
 
And last year I added these lines:
 
And now you see I’m 88.
The years have flown so fast.
I walked, I limped, I held a cane,
And now I ride at last.
 
I take a nap now and again,
But priesthood power remains.
For all the physical things I lack
There are great spiritual gains.
 
I have traveled the world a million miles
And another million too.
And with the help of satellites,
My journeys are not through.
 
I now can say with all certainty
That I know and love the Lord.
I can testify with them of old
As I preach His holy word.
 
I know what He felt in Gethsemane
Is too much to comprehend.
I know He did it all for us;
We have no greater Friend.
 
I know that He will come anew
With power and in glory.
I know I will see Him once again
At the end of my life’s story.
 
I’ll kneel before His wounded feet;
I’ll feel His Spirit glow.
My whispering, quivering voice will say,
“My Lord, my God, I know.”

                                                            -Boyd K. Packer

I love the life lessons we can take away from his poem.  It reminds me to be grateful for the years of wisdom I have gained.  It reminds me that all the book learning and life experience cannot take the place of spiritual learning that we gain by exercising faith in our believes.  It also helps remind me that every day of my life I should be growing closer to God by living my life in a way I know that He would be proud of.   I believe that trying to live our lives like that, is the best way to help each of us get to the point where we can say “I know” for ourselves.

I have a feeling the week ahead will be a fabulous one.  Cherish each day and the wisdom and experience it gives you.  You will be a wiser person by the end of this week so embrace that!

~Amy

3 Comments

  • Carl English says:

    Thank you again for your shared words of wisdom. You were an inspiration when I worked at UTC not too long ago and that strength of spirit continues.

  • Lex says:

    Wonderful poem! How true. May I add, looking back I realize that I have worked very hard, been very busy, but have spent a good deal of time climbing ladders that were leaning against the wrong wall. Now, at age 70, I am more effective, because I’ve learned to focus on that which matters most, that which produces results and truly makes a difference.

  • Brennan says:

    Thank you Amy, I am always telling my kids youth is wasted on the young. : )

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