Georgie Bright Kunkel hits 100 'Still running'
Editor's Note: West Seattle's own Georgie Bright Kunkel celebrated 100 years on August 29 and had a few words of wisdom to pass along. She said, "Do whatever you want, whatever feels good." She has avoided alcohol since, "I had two alcoholic brothers and I determined I wasn't going to drink." She never smoked and was an active runner, "I haven't stopped running yet," she said laughing. She enjoys current events, "politics are exciting, I love it, but I might have to run myself." Asked again for advice she offered, "Do what comes naturally and don't forget your friends."
Here's a column she wrote for Westside Seattle with her thoughts on aging.
Time to Reflect
by Georgie Bright Kunkel
Remember that song about various times in life? In one’s senior years, it is the season to reflect upon life and try to determine its meaning. There are so many purposes in life determining the particular stage that one is experiencing. Growing up one has to spend a lot of time just learning about the world and finding ways to cope and survive. Growing up[ I was in awe of it all. No one around me could really explain the mystery of the universe. I would think about it and try to figure it all out but many questions still remained. I close my eyes and try to visualize the creator in action. But so many questions remain and are still unanswered.
The best way to take it all in is just to stand in awe and accept whatever comes one’s way. But for some reason it doesn’t seem altogether fair that some people do better wending their way through life’s challenges than others. The answer always boils down to that no one ever agreed that life is fair for everyone. My mother would observe some people who seemed to have more suffering than than the people around them and she would remark, “There but for the grace of god go I.” That was the only answer I had as to the seemingly unfair system that I had been born into. Some parents seem much better at guiding offspring than others. In today’s culture there are few oldsters with the wisdom of living many years in life to give guidance. The modern city seems to separate people by age. That leaves older people living isolated from the general population in retirement residences or nursing homes.
We live in families isolated from the extended family of yore. In farming communities of long ago all the generations lived in close proximity. There was always a grandmother or maiden aunt with the wisdom that aging provides to give much needed advice for younger people facing the world’s problems for the first time. Now the internet is the resource for getting answers. The computer has brought the world to one’s door. What a vast store of knowledge we have at our fingertips these days but it takes real life people with wisdom to stand ready to interpret what otherwise would be unfathomable for most of us.
Colleges need to have a survival course called Aging 101 to prepare us for physical deterioration and decline. No matter how much I wonder about it all I have never figured out why aging and death need to be a part of life. So I have finally learned to accept my fate and I realize that if we never died there wouldn’t be room for everyone on earth and overcrowding would soon be our downfall. So I spend my days coping with life on my own terms and look about me at the possibilities that are endless for us humans. We are now living in an age of modern technology that brings the world to our doorstep. People like Ken Burns bring the world to the screen for us to wonder over. Yes, life is amazing and luckily I have had the upbringing and education to revel in its diversity and delight.
Every day is a day of new beginnings and exploration. And if one is open to learning, one’s life is expanded and enriched. So get out there and enjoy what is around you. Say yes to new adventures. Life is fleeting as we have learned by observing oldies disappearing from the earth at the end of life. Even if we may never know the total meaning of life, we can live it with gusto and pass on our knowledge to the next generations that follow.
So with each new day I try to follow my own advice by meeting each new challenge with the determination to wend my way using all I have learned to aid in making intelligent decisions that can enrich my own life and blend with the decisions of those around me. Since we don’t have control over our aging and death we have to learn to accept what comes. Acceptance is difficult for someone who has been brought up to take command of life but I am gradually learning how that is done. Looking forward to each of life’s many challenges is the key to dealing with growing up and aging. Hopefully I can continue to master the art of aging and share what I have learned with younger generations in my life.