Growing old may not be for sissies, but neither is it a death-defying feat… oh wait, maybe that’s what it is all about. Let me start over again.
Growing old may not be for sissies, but it can happen to any one of us, whether we are sissies or not. Stick around long enough and you get old. Since euthanasia is unacceptable, even illegal in most places, and given the advances in dentistry and medicine, it looks like a lot of us will live out our “threescore years and ten,” as called out in the 90th Psalm. This isn’t to our credit, just a fact of life, so to speak.
I don’t think any of us says, “I’m going to live until I’m eighty-five years old,” when we are young, and so we should not think that the simple act of aging is anything to be proud of. We live as long as we do because we have been lucky, genetics have worked in our favor, and we haven’t pissed someone off badly enough.
Maybe a more correct phrase would be, “Growing old is for people who aren’t paying attention,” except that would also include people who wander into traffic or repair light switches while standing a puddle of water; people who are probably not going to grow old.
Whatever the best way of phrasing it, I am now three years past my threescore and ten and I still don’t have a clear-cut idea what will happen next. I have slowly climbed out of a long writer’s block while playing amiable host to a recurring flu germ. I feel like a coelacanth thrashing around in the bottom of a canoe, trying to get on with all the other things in my life that demand attention.
While I would love to consider all that I am doing as being heroic, really it is just “Life Its Own Self” (thank you Dan Jenkins), spooling out.
And that’s what it comes down to; growing old is nothing particularly heroic, nothing particularly outstanding, just getting on with life. There should be no pats on the back for simply aging.
So, to wrap things up, today I am aware that I have grown old, that growing old is for sissies and for non-sissies as well as for absent minded people and for folks who don’t notice the passing of time. To all you folks who are growing old like me, welcome to the club.
To paraphrase William Butler Yeats, “THAT is no country for young men.”