More thoughts on the aging process
by Irwin Lengel
Picture if you will that it is a gorgeous sunny day and you are about to embark on your usual morning jaunt in the park, a morning run on the beach, or just a quick stroll down the block, when someone stops you and asks: What a beautiful day it is today – aren’t you glad to be alive? How would you respond?
I don’t know about you but there is something wonderful and almost magical about waking up to a beautiful, bright, sunny day. The human mind is a funny thing. Somehow, no matter how bad the day before had been - waking up to such a beautiful day seems to put life into the right perspective. For whatever reason, the problems that we faced the day before seem minor in comparison to such a grand day.
Take me for instance, I am about to turn 73 this year but I do not look upon old age as a time in my life that I must become old and grouchy. No - to the contrary – this is the time of my life that I say to myself – hey – you woke up today, make the best of it!. Having done more things than I ever imagined I would do within the last five years of my life led me to look at old age completely differently. I now look at old age as a time of freedom. Freedom to do the many leisurely things I was unable to earlier in my life due to commitments such as working, raising a family, putting the kids through school and so forth. This new found freedom enables me to do whatever I wish and allow my thoughts to dictate where and what I want to explore.
I must admit that, upon reaching the soon to be ripe old age of 73 - the aging process does bring with it some scary thoughts – thoughts about the possibility of dementia or having been through some scary times with my heart, the possibility of strokes.
Let’s face it, at age 72 it is quite possible that some of our contemporaries are dead and having seen what many people look like that are in our doctor’s office when we visit her, there are also quite a few people out there with profound mental or physical damage. Looking at the way some of these people move, it wouldn’t surprise me that they are, leastways in their own minds, trapped in a minimal existence.
While it is quite possible that the early seventies may be too soon to see signs of decay, once we are in our seventies, we tend to notice that our reactions are a little slower, we probably cannot think of a person’s name as fast as we once could, and our energy levels wane a bit sooner than they did ten or fifteen years earlier. But that is not to say that just being in our early seventies we have to feel old. It is quite possible that even in our seventies we might often feel full of energy and life and not at all feel “old”.
When asked the question - ”Good morning, how are you today?” My normal or usual response would be to say: – I am great. Why? Because – first off, I woke up this morning and I am almost certain not everyone did, and second, I am on the right side of the grass – so it is going to be a good day!” At times, I kind of surprise myself because not always do I feel that great but the mere fact that someone else went out of their way to ask how I am doing made me want to sort of pay it forward. By that I mean if they took the time to ask how I was, why not reply positively and then keep the momentum going by asking them the same after replying to their question.
My thoughts on the whole aging process is just this, if I feel good at age 72, and I keep doing the things I am doing now, I can't wait for my 80s to roll around. Unfortunately, my father died at an early age – 55 but my mother lived until she was 83. For the most part, my mother enjoyed good health up until about the last six months of her life. To my knowledge though, my mother enjoyed most of her 83 years and lived them to the fullest.
I would venture to say that the longer we are on this earth we will see many of life’s true stories. We will see and go through both triumphs and tragedies, we will see the economy both rise and fall. I doubt seriously that no matter how old we get, we will always see quite a few things we could ramble on about.
One thing that can be said about the aging process is that we who have lived to a ripe old age, will have a very vivid, lived sense of history that was not possible at an earlier age. Another thought that comes to mind as we get older is how we can make light of how old we have gotten. For instance, my wife is two years older than I and I teased her just the other day (although after I said it I realized how wrong it was to do and thus it won’t happen again) when I said to her kiddingly “How does it feel to be three-quarters of a century old?” We could not do all this when we were in our 50’s or 60’s.
I am sure that there are times that we would like to have known when we were say 30 or 40 what we know now, but then we would not have had this incredible journey we have been on for the past 70 some years.
How good do you feel at present about your old age?