As a quick aside, Google is pure joy sometimes. I Googled ‘benefits of getting older’ and came up with a fun site with 30 benefits , so here are the ones I liked most:
- In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.
- No one expects you to run into a burning building.
- Kidnappers are not very interested in you.
- You enjoy hearing about other people's operations.
- Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.
OK, back to business, other positives of getting older. For instance there’s a whole big world of need out there just looking for volunteers with wisdom and the experience of years, or there are at least fifty hobbies we could pursue. If you are a family person there are the kids to encourage and the grandchildren to have fun with. (The good thing about grandchildren, they say, is that you can hand them back after you’ve had enough!). If you have the money and the companion there is the world of travel and cruising just waiting for you.
Accepting that there are some not-so-good points (OK, they’re bad!), before we come on to them, I think there are some half way issues as well. I mean, even in the suggestions I’ve just made above, it’s not that clear cut in reality is it? I mean sometimes volunteering can be really good and helpful and fulfilling, but other times you can find yourself with people who are not appreciative and it’s like climbing out of one rocky boat into another. And hobbies can be good, but I find for me, personally, starting new ones is not easy. Expanding what I’ve done in the past is one thing but otherwise….. And then there is encouraging the kids; so much of the time they don’t seem to want the encouragement and are at that time of life when they think they know it all, and as for being taken for granted as a baby sitter, that doesn’t sit comfortably with me. I don’t know, I think it’s just got to be a case of suck it and see, try it and see, and if one thing doesn’t work, move on and try something else. Perhaps we need a spirit of adventure to break out into news things. Oh, that’s what it is – I need to change my thinking!!!
But then there are the not-so-good things and they tend to focus on either loneliness or physical factors. Yes, it is a time of life when a partner passes on and whatever they say, nothing compensates for the gap that they leave. Sometimes we can move on and find a new soul mate but many don’t. Love is a two edged sword, isn’t it. It’s wonderful to have all those years and often we take it for granted until suddenly he / she is no longer there. Suddenly it is heart piercing. Total and absolute utter anguish and there is a hole in your life that you can never imagine ever being filled again.
Then there is failing faculties – hearing going, sight failing, why didn’t they warn us about that? Then there’s stiff joints, aching joints and a life on tablets that so many of us seem consigned to. I suppose the good side of this is that if we’d lived a hundred years ago we’d have been dead by now. So life changes its focus to maintaining movement, doing all one can to remain fit and healthy. You get out of work with all its trials and tribulations and enter a new world with a different set of trials and tribulations.
It would be remiss of me if I didn’t quote from Shakespeare’s As You Like It at this point:
All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.
At first the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like snail unwillingly to school.
And then the lover, sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad made to his mistress' eyebrow.
Then a soldier, full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking the bubble reputation even in the cannon's mouth.
And then the justice, in fair round belly with good capon lined, with eyes severe and beard of formal cut, full of wise saws and modern instances; and so he plays his part.
The sixth age shifts into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side, his youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide for his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice, turning again toward childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound.
Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
A somewhat depressing view! What’s the answer? Stop grumbling and work on coping, enjoying and helping others – in that order I suspect. It’s learning to cope with loneliness, learning to cope without the drive of work, learning to cope with pain; that’s the first step. The next step is enjoying life. I think that is as much about how we think as it is what we do. If I see life as hard and difficult, it will be hard and difficult. If I see it as an adventure to be enjoyed, then it will become that. And once I’m up and running, who can I help?
Well what a neat piece of homespun philosophy if ever there was one! Sounds easy, but I believe it is a true summary of the reality and the possibility of this period of life. It’s not always easy, so we have to cope. Life can be worrying and miserable and so there needs to be a balance of enjoyment, but all that is rather inward looking and those that know about these things suggest that fulfilment comes when we are outward looking, so somehow I’ve got to get out of the house and see where a helping hand or an encouraging word could be applied. That needs some more thought, but it’s a start!
Quote: “Success, happiness, peace of mind and fulfilment – the most priceless of human treasures – are available to all among us, without exception, who make things happen – who make ‘good’ things happen – in the world around them.”
(Source: Joe Klock)