Withering Heights

Bill by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

When at last one has ploddingly attained the dizzying pinnacle of one’s career there is recognizably only one way to go – down!  Eventually even the most accomplished of us is overwhelmed by the perpetual furtherance of knowledge and advancements of technology.  It becomes both undesirable and impossible to keep up with the unrelenting pace of change.  We begin to lose our footing, freshness and vigor, and the prospect of vanishing and disappearing altogether becomes all too real.

Technology is perhaps the readiest barometer of change and of our exponential dissolution.  As much as I flatter myself that I have kept abreast of technology I admit that my aversion to so-called social media like Twitter, Facebook and Linked In works against me.  I have for example even read in certain job descriptions that facility with social media is a necessity though I am strained to know why.  The closest I have got to text messaging is to have an airline send me a note that my flight is delayed.  Apart from that I have no idea how to “follow” somebody or “like” or “tweet” or “endorse” them nor do I wish to accumulate a meaningless collection of “friends”.  The only occasion on which I acknowledged any possible utility to social media was during the initial stages of the Arab Spring and that was hardly a commotion I pined to attend.

It is of course perfectly natural that one should fall into decay and decline with age. Whether however the process is more of a deterioration than a degeneration is a matter of some speculation.  Graceful fading would for example be far more preferable though ascendancy of one’s atrophy requires both skill and dedication.  The essential elements of diet, personal hygiene and exercise spring to mind.  To forego those concerns amounts to double-dyed capitulation not to mention the lubrication of that very slippery slope.  I am assuming that the wallpaper of one’s life – intellectual capacity, professional skills and emotional fervency – remain constant (at least during the initial stages of diminishment).  In fact it is at the very moment when one has reached the peak of this spiraling descent that life affords an entirely unique though admittedly probationary opportunity of indulgence and expression.  I know of many people who rejoice in the liberation which aging furnishes, everything from the freedom to say precisely what they think to the smug satisfaction of sharing with gusto their hard-earned wisdom.

Having reached one’s peculiar elevation in life is also the chance to resile from the more difficult and complex undertakings and instead to dwell upon that which comes most easily and efficiently.  Such luxury it is to do exclusively what one likes!  By this time the idea that you must “prove” yourself is utterly preposterous.  The unalloyed commitment must rather be to the delectation of life.  Any derailment of that absorption smacks of carelessness and downright error!  I am even tempted to suggest it amounts to some kind of moral deficiency.

The conclusion therefore is not that we accede abjectly to the sere and yellow leaf of old age but rather that we should savour the view from the top of the withering heights and hang onto our hat for the gripping ride down the other side!