The elderly are far
More fascinating than the young –
This isn’t oft recognized by the young since
They oft only see the elderly from afar –
Appealing might be a bright young star –
But revealing is any old quasar!
Copyright by Minh Tan on listed dated of completion
and published in Perspectives, ISBN 0-9686250-0-2.
Notes to this poem…
I wrote this poem in my early 20s, a time in life when most consider just about everything having to do with youth and early adulthood to be the glory of life. Yet, my experiences as an immigrant to Canada had given me greater appreciations and insights into life I felt to be years beyond those of my fellow Canadian born citizens, although being an immigrant does not automatically imbue one with such things because I knew many immigrants who were just despicable in their attitudes towards the world. I can’t prove the greater appreciation and insights, of course, but let’s just say I’ve never had any doubts. In part, this was due to my ability to sit and reflect on life with old people near the end of their lives, though I mostly listened to learn from them and their wisdom. The revelation that often came to me was that I not only understood all they said, in terms of life philosophies, but that I had formulated a lot of it on my own before I had talked to them. This was everything from how to live, how to see the world, what various things meant, what was and was not important, how to tell the difference between this and that akin to the same ability asked for in the Serenity Prayer.
God grant me the serenityTo accept the things I cannot change;Courage to change the things I can;And wisdom to know the difference.
I didn’t have these sorts of conversations often, but the rare time I did, I found them to be very insightful, interesting and appeasing. How I felt then regarding what I wrote in the poem about finding older people interesting rather than younger people I still believe just as strongly today, if not more. There is a lot to be said positively for youth and young people, but there’s something from the wisdom of the elders that just strikes deeper for me, something I don’t think a lot of young people get exposed to a lot in a true and deep conversation with older people because often they keep a metaphorical distance towards the elder when it comes to seeking their wisdom. No doubt, the young always believe they know everything, a trait that goes far beyond adolescence more often than a lot of people recognize… except some of the elder, of course, and I am still prone to it despite having the insight to have written about it some 13 years ago now.
It was this line of thinking that led to my astronomy metaphor to classify people as stars in the heavens, with their age representing the age of various celestial objects. Stars may live to be 5 billion years old, but quasars can live much longer and the ones seen in the sky are almost as old as the universe itself.
The O-series of poems are one stanza poems composed before I got onto writing haiku and tanka, and short poetry while in action or traveling by select means like plane or ferry. These poems are 3-9 lines long with at least one rhyming couplet, and not of the short forms just mentioned. For the sake of elegance, I just called the collection One.