I won’t say it is exclusively a hazard of aging, certainly not; but for those of us over the age of sixty, it is not unheard of to be rudely jolted by the sight of oneself. “How”, we ask ourselves, “did it come to this?” And I don’t mean simply physical appearance though that alone can be less than cheering. What I’m here talking about is discovering we are at the end of the road so to speak. With few exceptions, by the sixth decade most of us have about reached the pinnacle of our maturity. Even though thanks to modern medicine and organic foods we can objectively count on several more years of active living, chances are we won’t be improving upon the picture significantly.
As a youth there was a certain freedom in knowing one could irreverently follow one’s nose in most matters without fear of losing the trail to those higher destinations we greedily anticipated in the unfolding of our career. Oddly however, by indiscernible displacement of time and space, we migrated from the bloom of youth to the sere and yellow leaf of old age. This is perhaps a bit severe but I employ the device of exaggeration to illustrate the point.
What intrigues me in this process is what, if anything, have we lost along the way; and is it in a nutshell too late to do anything about it? In a nutshell, yes. All the concoction in the world isn’t going to polish the tarnished shell of our existence. And what’s gone is more than the mere bloom; it’s the lack of energy. If one combines this withering vigour with the commensurate decline in expenditure of any other resource, you have the makings of a mess.
This is all a reminder to relish the day as it is. Recently I heard of a trick to keep us smiling. The woman said that when she was thirty, she looked back fondly on the days of her twenties; and when she was fifty, she looked back fondly on the days of her forties; and when – well, you get the picture. The point is that what we are today will hopefully be seen in retrospect as pretty good, so why not enjoy it when it’s here?