Maybe it’s because I turned 65 today and, as a result, I have, in earnest, suddenly begun thinking and talking about very little else but getting older and reaching retirement age.
In fact if you’ll recall, I brought up the subject sometime back in another column.
At any rate, and irrespective of the reason, I AM thinking more about it these days, and, regrettably, what I am thinking is not always in the most positive light.
That’s why whenever I find myself concentrating too much on the negative aspects of this subject, I attempt to redirect my thoughts to an old saying that more times than not helps at least some: “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better.”
Whether this is an actual saying by an actual philosopher-type person or by a commercial spokesperson for an antiquated Clairol hair-color commercial makes no nevermind to me; I heartily agree with the message it suggests.
For instance, although no one could ever confuse me with Job, one way I’ve gotten better is that I now have infinitely more patience with just about everyone and everything than I had when I was younger.
Then too, I am now far more empathetic towards both humans and nonhumans than I was in my youth. But probably the most glaring improvement I’ve noticed is the fact I’ve come to understand that I actually have less general knowledge about the world right now than what I was sure I had already attained 40 years ago as a “know-it-all” twenty-something.
Here is another noteworthy betterment that has come with age which I can now fully appreciate: So far my life’s journey has been mostly fulfilling and productive, not to mention the fact that along the way I have been able to retain the invaluable lessons that both the many good and bad experiences alike taught me while I made this walk.
Still, despite these definite betterments I just can’t make myself dismiss the numerable negatives that creep into my mind every now and then, at least not altogether.
You see I understand that with every tick of the clock, with every breath I take, with every sunrise God grants me another opportunity to soak up and experience daily life as I’ve known it to be for the last 65 years, there’s no escaping the stark reality that I’ve put far many more days behind me than I’ll see going forward.
Those of us currently in them, near, or even a tad beyond the so-called autumn years of our lives, understand this reality well.
With myself falling squarely into the late-autumn category, I know I am nowhere near as physically capable as I once was. And there’s no getting around the fact that I also have a tendency to injure myself more often and contract illnesses much easier than I used to. (I know, COVID-19 and every possible consequence the last part of that sentence suggests).
That’s not to say I am suddenly in need of a private nurse covering my legs with a blanket each time he/she wheels me outside on a crisp fall day.
But it does say, and regardless of how I feel about it, that I am no longer a clichéd spring chicken still physically capable of doing what seems to me I was doing just yesterday while expending no more energy than it takes to fall off a log — because I’m not.
But having said this I try never to forget that, with every single morning God grants me another opportunity to wake up and begin a new day, I have thus far been blessed, and, that this, too, has to count for something.
I have otherwise enjoyed relatively good health when so many others my age and even younger, many of them having been close and not-so-close relatives and friends, were not as blessed and now eternally sleep.
Naturally I would not object if suddenly I again became as sprite as a 20 year-old, because, like everyone else, I’d very likely embrace that as tightly as a pit bull’s mouth around a steak bone.
But I’ve come to realize being a 20 year-old man again is not nearly as nearly as attractive, not nearly as all consuming, as it was to me just a few years ago.
Just arriving at the timeframe in life I now find myself, and mind you in the relatively good fashion I have been blessed to arrive there, with the fervent hope of getting to a still greater age in like manner, I think, in itself bespeaks of human growth and accomplishment.
And if I can say that with no reservations or regrets, that must be proof-positive that the above old saying is just as wise and applicable in 2021 as when it was first uttered to the world.
And, as far as this “late-fall chicken” is concerned, it is so even if it turns out that these seven deeply implicit words did, in fact, originate from a Clairol hair-color commercial.