19 August 2020

It Ain’t Easy Getting Old

Getting Old

Lots of things aren’t easy in life. But, aging may be the hardest for most all of us. Many who read this essay are already in advanced age, and may well have thoughts on this part of life worth sharing. We welcome comments.

I will never forget the words spoken by my Aunt Margaret decades ago which brought this state of aging into brash reality. At the time Margaret, Maggie, or Mag had been sitting with mother in her dying days. There had been tension between the two for years, as there was with our maiden aunt and others in the family.

The dying process paradoxically can stimulate unexpected moments of healing. And so it was with Mother and Margaret who eventually spoke words much like these, “It has been an honor to care for Allie (our mother). She has been so mellow and kind. It would be nice if  I were like her when I get old. But, I imagine that I will become a real bitch.”

Maggie’s prediction came quite true as told by another sister who cared for Margaret in her own last days.

Life can be tough and harsh and hard at any age. But, it seems that there are extra challenges as we get OLD. Let’s consider a few:

• As in Maggie’s case, it seems that in latter years our bad points as well as good ones are often MAGnified. What we think on, we become. And as we think on things for decades and decades they manifest in our lives more and more. For good and for ill.

• Our habits take over, and our addictions - positive and negative - tend to take control.

I am reminded of a Montana friend who surely began life with an addictive personality. In recent times as he has entered into his 60s, his habits seem to have moved toward greater extremes. He stands by some as if they were Gospel Truth.

Mr. B. now rails about the wonders of drinking distilled water. He thinks it’s wonderful. Further afield, his favorite beverage now is his own urine. T.B. keeps trying to sell the idea on Facebook and will brook no attempts to question his latest little-studied addiction.

We should give him credit for trying to tend to his own health - to one degree or another. And also for being focused in the present from which many elders seem to be distracted.

• It seems to this observer that many older people are focused on the past, yesteryear, the Good Old Days. There seems to be little to look forward to, so why not focus on the past. The past is a common point of interest for several of my aging friends. Such may be a better point of focus than some options.

• It appears that by retirement age a lot of people have run out of gas, and seem to be coasting to the end. They are neither lazy nor careless. But rather tired out and resting on their laurels. Waiting for Judgment Day. But, there are options and opportunities.

Another old friend used to complain about people sleeping too much. “Rest In Peace: Why you can rest all you want when you are dead.” Why not make use of the time and opportunities at hand?

There are so many possibilities in the modern world close at hand and especially now through the Internet:

• To maintain connection with friends

• To learn languages

• To study in wide areas of life

• To practice music, art, dance

• To read the classics

• To write down stories and life lessons

• To present ideas for public consumption

• To speak and perform through podcasts and youtube.

There is no end to possibilities which the imagination can provide. You certainly can add to the list.

Bill, another friend on Facebook who lives in upstate New York, recently remarked about himself getting Old and Lazy. It didn’t sound like him, but the Pandemic has put a damper on some of his projects. So, he is turning in different directions and promoting friends in the local produce business on his FB page. But, he still seems to feel unproductive.

My rejoinder to Bill was to the effect that, “We all grow Old, but Lazy is an option.” He happily concurred.

That God-given mind of ours can be set to do all manner of wonderful things at elder age as at many other moments in life. Getting Old may not be Easy. But, let’s make the best of it for everyone concerned, for our selves, and to preview The Next Time Around.

What we do Today surely prepares us for Tomorrow, whenever and wherever that may be.

Comments always welcome at theportableschool at gmail dot com.

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