Avuncular

There comes a point in a man’s life when he loses his edge. His good looks are gone (if he ever had any), he’s physically slowed down, and everyone begins to look at him as harmless. Young women are not nervous about riding with him in the same elevator. Older women don’t give him a second thought. Young men don’t even see him anymore.

Many of the guys who reach this stage develop a sense of kindness and patience and become generally more indulgent of people who are younger than they are. When a person reaches this juncture, he is commonly referred to as avuncular—being “kind and friendly towards a younger or less experienced person…like the expected behavior of an uncle.”

Never Trust Anyone

When I was young; my generation developed a quip that said, “Never trust anyone older than thirty.” Apparently, we weren’t looking for an avuncular guy in our lives. Consequently, many of us never found one either. We struggled along, making multitudinous mistakes in our lives—errors that could have been avoided if we had been a tad more open to our elders and their worldly wisdom.

Now, I’m on the other end. I’m over thirty. I’ve been so for almost forty years. I try to be the avuncular guy on the block, but I’m not sure many youngsters are open to my offerings. Still, I see it as my job—even my mission—to pass along the sage advice that one accumulates during years of trial and error. A few actually accept it while many, I suppose, see me as a doddering old man. Putting myself in their shoes, I remember what I used to sarcastically say. “What does he know?”

The lessons of life are often hard to learn. Too many times, we have to repeat our foibles and fall on our faces to grasp the real truth that lies before us. Some of us are so stubborn that we never quite understand our problems and their possible solutions. Others do things their own way and fail rather than stoop to acknowledge they might be wrong. After all, we old geezers lived in very different times than theirs.

Changelessness

Well, I’ve come to realize that those times were not all that different. Sure, circumstances change, but the principles of life are steadfast. When I was young, I wanted everything to change. I wanted revolution in all facets of my existence. I was restless and dissatisfied. Now, I’m much happier with the status quo—changelessness for the sake of serenity.

If you read the Bible from cover to cover, you will notice that “the elders” were always esteemed and respected. They were understood to hold the secrets of life and at least a few answers that the bulk of society was yet to discover. Now, I’ve been thrust into that category due to a bit of longevity. I’m not sure if I want that honor, but I’ll try to be avuncular about it. What have I got to lose?

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

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