I have read over 100 books in the last 2 years, and quite a few have been on my kindle app. I wish I could remember where I read this, but at the moment, I am not sure which book it was. This really impacted me, and I have thought about it many times since reading about it.
The author referred to a study in which elderly men and women were recorded doing regular activities in public. I specifically remember the example of paying for groceries. They followed up at a later time and played the recordings back for them.
The overwhelming response of these men and women was shock and sadness. Many cried as they were struck by the slowness of their own movements. In the moment, they were not aware of how slowly they were moving, but as they watched it played back for them, they were sad to observe how much slower they were moving than they realized.
I tested up just reading about this study. Many times as I have encountered an older person since reading this, I have paused to recall this very fact. I remind myself that this precious person is very possibly unaware of how slowly they are moving or how much of a rush I am in as I check off one more thing of the list of to-do’s for the day. Instead of frustration, annoyance, even anger, I have found compassion rushing into my heart.
We rarely like to think about aging and what it will be like as the later years of life are upon us. I think about the juxtaposition of the life of a mom with young kids, feeling frazzled and overwhelmed with a grocery cart full of food and kids, versus the elderly woman in front of me, taking the time to fill out her check or painstakingly counting out the change as I watch. I tend to have much grace for that sweet young mom because I know those feelings. I can put myself in her place, and I remember how exhausting it is to do every. single. thing. with a baby strapped to my chest or a toddler yanking on my shirt.
The compassion for the elderly does not come from personal experience. It can come from watching our loved ones struggle or working in a setting with them regularly. However, I found this view from their own perspective to be an unexpected gift. I have a feeling I will never forget it, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to show compassion and kindness where I once fought to contain my impatience.