The Wise Old Man


This morning I saw this poem on Facebook and had to repost it.  After reading the poem several times, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was living this out as if it were a play.  I talk of never wasting time, what is important in life, having no regrets and taking every challenge head on, how to have a winning mindset, and how many of us are sleeping while wide awake.

This simple post brought it all together and hopefully will alter how you are living your life right now.  Because if you can really take the time to understand how to this applies to you life, everything will change.  All obstacles will seem insignificant.  The things you think are important right now, will drift off into a distant memory as if they never happened.

Here is the story.

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne .. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man…..
What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . … . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .’I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . … lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. …Babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future … . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. …. . ME!!

This wise old man has told us about his life.  His triumphs and his regrets.  How time is fleeting and why it is our most precious commodity.  See yourself as the old man and visualize all of the regrets that you will have.

What can you do RIGHT NOW to not live out these regrets?  What can you do RIGHT NOW so that you can look back and smile?

“I never thought I would look back at the times when I cried…and laugh.  Or think of the times when I laughed…and cry.” – Unknown

Live with urgency!



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  • Anonymous

    Really touched my heart!

  • Phil

    A great song expressing a similar sentiment

  • Ken Bolland

    Somebody sent me this last year; according to that, the old man had died in California, and it was reprinted in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the
    St. Louis Association for Mental Health. The basic lessons that Smitty highlights are still as true as ever.

    Whatever, what we must do is wipe the curse of aging off the face of the earth. Go Aubrey de Grey, go Michael Rose, go all the briliiant minds who are fighting the greatest of all battles!

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light indeed!

  • Isaac

    Exsquiset! Should check my spelling on that, but you get the just. Thanks for sharing Jim. Do us one better? Repost on fb?

  • Conor

    Wow! Great stuff Smitty! Just the kind of message I needed to hear after a long week.

  • Janila

    Thank you.

  • Arstar1


    You always bring us back to the one most important thing that should rule our lives…LOVE!
    Love of our ourselves, our family, friends and of course…loving our passions!
    Arlene :)

  • Dave

    Smitty Thanks

    The Band Man

  • Graham Webb

    Great post – really makes you think, thanks!

  • hoax_buster

    Too bad this is fake… It was disproven a while back.

  • Halina Haishun Chumillas

    Esto es increible!

  • scorp888

    Shame on you!

    The poem talks about respecting old people, which is nice, however it’s a shame that people don’t respect the original poet! This poem is based on a a poem written in 1966 by Phyllis McCormack As per here