THE CLARITY OF DISGRUNTLEMENT
Last night on Japan tv I saw one of those health programs, there seem to be a lot of them these days, there were no such programs back when I was younger in the West and there was only one channel (and when "health faddist" store clerks dressed like doctors and nurses!). These are programs on which some hip-hyper expert shovels out heaps of information that is soon proven to be more or less inaccurate - who really knows until the last pitch - but this claim was pretty convincing; what's more, it was right up my alley (that's an elder idiom from a time when alleys were a big part of life).
This claim was convincing because I could tell it was true. In fact, I'll bet it is true. I sure hope it's true. Be good if it was. It declared that elders who are "grumpy" (i.e., emotionally discerning), "cranky" (sensitive), "opinionated" (knowledgeable), "fussy" (tasteful), "disgruntled" (perceptive), or as we used to say, "testy" (not many truly testy folks around anymore), are less likely to become senile or develop Alzheimer's, there being some significant iota of laboratory correlation between discontent and mental acuity; I can certainly see why that would be the case.
The fact is, that if you continue to actually grow with age, you naturally grow more discerning, and by the time you reach the early levels of the life summit you have had so much experience, acquired so much concise and incontrovertible judgmental ability - overall awareness on so many fronts - that you can easily tell, for example, the difference between taste and its absence.
For this and other reasons, it would be a massive loss to humankind and its evolutionary potential if there were not always sufficient elders to nurture the Big Germination. It would be disastrous if disgruntlement, the surest sign that one knows what is right, was not viewed as a good and necessary, even laudable quality, as good for the world as for the individual, like all the other laudable qualities mentioned above.
Indeed, the older I become the more apparent is the urgency for those at the summit to point out the facts of these matters with a forcible forefinger, providing detailed explication to these wisdom-starved whippersnappers! Why, we elders haven't even touched the surface of staying sharp in today's world; I'll get on with my part as soon as I find my glasses.