You can't help growing older, but you don't have to grow old.
We are all on trial for our lives. The prosecuting attorney has gradually been stacking up all kinds of evidence against us and we have no defense attorney but ourselves.
The District Attorney presents his case. You can't remember people's names, that's a sign your slipping into oblivion. You occasionally do stupid things which proves that you're losing a grip on reality. You have aches and pains all over you so you must be in terrible physical shape. You're overweight therefore you have no control over yourself. There are certain foods you can't digest properly because your stomach has lost it's strength. You can't walk down the street without getting tired. There are so many things you used to be able to do that you can't do anymore. Certain items in your body don't function properly and need to be replaced. You don't sleep well. You need all kinds of medicine to keep going and stay alive. You're a problem for your family and a drain on society. The only conclusion one can draw is that you are old and headed for the mortuary. The DA rests his case.
Now it's your turn. You can't remember certain people's names and other facts because your mind is filled with information and you can remember the important things. (I knew an older woman who got the giggles when she couldn't remember names. She simply was not going to take it seriously.) Everyone occasionally does stupid things no matter what their age. Aches and pains all over you doesn't mean you are a physical wreck. It means you have more aches and pains than you used to have. You've been meaning to go on a diet so you can look more like your neighbor down the street but you haven't gotten around to it yet. There are certain foods you can't digest properly because your body doesn't want them. (My grandmother lost her taste for certain foods. She simply didn't like them any more.) You can't walk down the street without getting tired because you're not an athletic person as you used to be. (You don't have to be a marathon runner to prove you're in shape.) There are many things you used to be able to do that you can't do any more maybe because you don't want to do them. Certain parts of your body don't function properly and need to be replaced. So what? You don't sleep well. People who are older and less active require less sleep. You need all kinds of medicine to keep going and stay alive. Since when is medicine prescribed only for the older folks around. You're not a problem for your family if they love you and you love them. You're an asset because you're older and wiser. You're not a drain on society if you don't think you are. You are simply older and headed for another year of life (and maybe a vacation instead of a coffin.) You argue for energy, for curiosity, for adventure, for a changed and adapted life style, not doom. You rest your case.
All the advertisements about this disease or that disease, this cure or that cure, all the talk that goes on between people, the difficult experiences with doctors and hospitals, expecting and looking for problems and interpreting them in dire terms, the remembrance of past problems, the comparisons with other people's stories and the prophecies of doom are all part of the prosecutor's false evidence. It doesn't prove anything.
I used to know an actor my age who when he turned 40 began to show signs of physical wear and tear. He told me all the awful things I would soon start to experience and all the facilities and faculties I would soon lose. I went away and argued against every one of them. There was no reason, I thought, for any of those things to happen to me just because he believed they would and seemed to be happening to him. I soon realized that he had talked himself into illness which I could easily reason myself away from. That was 30 years ago and I didn't contract with any of his phantoms.
Recently a "friend" told me I had only 10 good years left and that if I didn't do this and that I would be bedridden in 6 months. That was over 4 months ago. Check back with me in December.
It is important for you to take care of yourself and to deal with problems as they occur. My point is not to interpret those problems as evidence of your extrinsic demise into mental and physical decrepitude. You are not fast approaching the moment when you'll be finished unless you accept the evidence. But you have the right to argue for enthusiasm, for a future, for life. George Burns lived to be 100 and worked as an entertainer right up till his final year. You're not old. You're just older.
DB - The Vagabond
(This is not a contest.)
At what event of the past do you wish you could be present? Why?
2 responses so far.