Great article for you boomers in The New Yorker: “65: Learning to Love Old Age” But, how many times does this subject need to be chewed, attempted at digestion and vomited?
Mark Jacabson pens this one. Granted, its well written as most articles are that get to the final copy of this well known periodical. Jacobson’s a fine writer describing what seems here as the generally recognized and attested to bummers but realities of our inevitable years of retirement leading into decrepit old age and visions of body breakdown and the god-awful sentence to the dreaded nursing home. It sucks.
He paints for us what we as the baby boom generation seem to be collectively going through with the use of Kerouac-esque adjectives in hopes to drive the point home. “Ah haaa, you may have thought that you’d die before you were 30 as Roger Daltry once sung about but now you…..you the hippies of the 60’s look and behave just like your parents.” Oh, man, it’s enough to freak you out like so many bad trips….man.
Of all of the literary skill Jacobson invests into this article, he forgets one thing. He can’t paint our entire generation this way. He’s a little too morbidly caught up in his own inability to deal effectively with is own demons. He’s plagued, like we all are, by his biases.
I know that I, for one, hail from a family in which none of my brothers and sisters ever let moss grow under our feet. I may, however, be a slight exception because I haven’t quite found my niche in life. But, I’ve made up for that in developing my own rationally-based optimism. What I mean is that I’m sort of like what Bob Dylan described in one of his songs, “…younger than that now..” Meaning, back when I was in my 20’s and 30’s I was plagued by low self esteem and other symptoms related to Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD. Now, I’ve “grown up” a little more wiser. Fortunately for me, I took some time I had while taking care of my kids at home for ten years to reflect, meditate and write my book, “Tamara’s Journey” which you can check out and purchase at your own chosen level of interest and pocketbook capability. During this time I forged that rational-based optimism I mentioned.
So, Jacobson paints a picture of the bummers of old age but offers no resolve. I mean, what else is there to be said. We’re born, grow old and die, right. I like to think, as all of you are likely to, that there’s something which we can experience that makes that last half of our life a bit more worth the investment we paid into it at the beginning. And it doesn’t take a whole lot of money, buying the latest exercise gismo from those infomercials or vacationing around the world or any of that. Grant it, those are all cool things to do. Its your money; as JG Wentworth says, “Do with you want with it.”
What it takes is a simple change of perspective. Like Obiwan Kenobi said to Luke in the Star Wars Film, “You’re going to find, Luke, that much of what we identify in our life is based upon our particular point of view.” or something to that effect. Luke was presently having a cow because Obiwan finally disclosed to him that Darth Vader was his father. Nothing like a good old rude awakening to distract you from your previously hard held conceptions about how the world really is. But, that’s just what we experience when we hit middle age, isn’t it? The world around us suddenly changes, drastically. The kids grow up, go to college, hopefully leave the nest so that they can live independent lives which are successful and what’s left. Why, the empty nest of course. But, why is it so empty? Or is it really empty.
It’s empty because we weren’t prepared for the sudden change coming to this point presented to us. That’s likely to scare the living crap out of you if you let it. But, people deal with it in their own different ways: start hobbies, play golf, shop at Home Depot, get breakfast at McDonalds and do whatever you can to kill the countless hours in your day that would otherwise be left to you with nothing to do.
Nothing to do is a pretty scary thing. Nothing……NO……..THING. Man, that will about spin your head around so badly that you don’t even want to go there. On the other hand, there may just be an advantage to this great big scary NOTHING.
Peace, tranquility, relaxation………Being There….Being Present with yourself.
So, the optimistic way to look at this latter half of your life or “old age” as it is popularly termed, is through self reflection, possibly meditation or seeing things differently, sharing a different point of view with yourself. Of course, you should be keeping yourself active in your retirement years but that’s not enough. There’s only so much you can do.
Where I work, at Home Depot, the motto is, “More Saving, More Doing….That’s the power of Home Depot”. I would like to suggest for the rest of us when we’re not shopping in Home Depot that we focus more on “More Being” because “That’s the power we’ve all sold away at the expense of ignorance and fear which we have to, at all costs, retrieve back for the sake of our own sanity and self respect.
So, I’ve done enough talking for now. What do you think? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment form boxes below.