janis joplin — when do you become an elder?

image via wikimedia commons

How do you define “elder”? Are you an elder? How old do you have to be to even consider yourself an elder?

“Elderly” or not, people 50+ have much to offer to our following generations. Perhaps a more important question is what do elders have to offer their communities?

To be part of WiseTribe carries a certain cachet. Because of that we, have a certain responsibility. Bestowing the gifts of experience and wisdom to our community is the single greatest thing we can do for the generations coming up after us.

Experience + perspective = wisdom

Sharing with younger generations is caring. How can we make ourselves heard?

In our society, youth is glamorized. Seemingly endless amounts of money is spent trying to sell the idea that to be young is the ideal. We all know that, right? But there are many more people on Earth who are not in the “youth group” and become marginalized. Do you feel marginalized?

Old? Not me!

Have you crossed over that imaginary line to “old age”? If you are like most people, I think you would answer “certainly not!” There is no imaginary line — no time at which we say we are old. Like Janis Joplin famously said, “Tomorrow never happens, it’s all the same &%$*ing day, man.”

Yeah, man. Tomorrow never happens. There is no line. It’s one long, continuous life and it’s yours to do with as you will.

So own it

Janis was right. Live the day you have. You earned your wisdom. Share it so that it does not end with you. Be an elder. Put on that mantle with pride of place and being. Be that 25-year-old-self that looks at each day and lives it fully. Combine it with what you know now.

You are still that same person but what a life you’ve lived so far! What experiences you have to add to your story. Wow! What a concept! With that in mind, think of the power you have to make a difference!

What if

Imagine if Janis did not make the mistakes of youth and were still here today. How would she look at things? Would she say the same things now as then?

For the sake of argument, let’s say “yes.” Let’s say yes; she would still hold sway over a stage and bring people to their feet with her passion and voice. Wow! What a concept! She would be our age! She would have made it through all the things life threw at her and still be going strong. Like you! Like us!

Being part of the WiseTribe is an incredible accomplishment. It says to everyone, “Look! I made it! It was not easy and I made good and bad decisions and I am still here to tell you about it.” With our voices raised we can hold sway and bring people to their feet. We can own our own stage and create, learn, teach and continue on, striding forward to the next and the next and the next great thing.

There is no line, man. We are here, every day, with all of our concerns, strengths, gifts, hurts, joys, mistakes and breakthroughs. We are elders in the human tribe. We are wise and can, through love and compassion, share ourselves with our community. We can share because it feels good. We want nothing in return but to keep on keeping on. We are alive and are living each day as elders in our WiseTribe.

Come — stand up and join us! What can we create together? What gifts do you have? What will you bring to the tribe?


In 2013, Karen Clancy made the daring move to New York City at age 50 to share her creative talents with the Big Apple. Through writing, singing and piano-playing (and sparkling wit and conversation!), Karen is making her way in a new city and is a great example of going after one’s dream at 50. Her music can be heard in various venues in NYC and her writing can be found here on WiseTribe and on her blog. Connect with Karen on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @klclancy.

Got other ideas about being an elder? Let us know! Check out our blog for more insights on how WiseTribers are adding meaning to their lives and to the lives of others. Join us to contribute your ideas!

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