3647 – Tuesday, May 7, 2019 – Youth versus Age! Who Wins and Who Loses?

I woke up this morning thinking about the difference between youth and old age.  It seems to me that youth is a time of getting.  A time of gaining things.  We get a career.  We get friends.  We get a spouse.  We get children.  We get a family.  We get money.  We get health.  We get trophies and awards.  We get toys.  We get a home.  Old age is just the opposite.  It is a time of losing.  It is a time of giving.

In old age, we lose our favorite restaurants and eating places.  We lose our favorite beaches as they put another new development up.  We lose our toys as we can no longer balance our bicycles, motorcycles, skis, or whatever.  We don’t dare do the jumps or twists or turns that we were so fond of when we were young.

We lose our careers.  We give up work that for many years defined and provided meaning to our lives. We lose our friends.  We lose our family.  We lose our moms, and pops, and sisters and brothers.  Sometimes, we even lose our children.

We lose our health.  We lose our teeth, our eyesight, our hair, our hearing.  We lose our stamina, our flexibility, our dexterity, our balance, our knees, our hips.  We lose our homes as we can no longer walk up the stairs or clean the kitchen.  We lose our money as it goes to the doctors, the assisted living center, the nursing home, the hospital and then the funeral home.

Everything that we were given when we were young will eventually be taken as we get older.  Perhaps the hardest part of getting old is the letting go of things that we thought had value.  Old age will teach us lessons about value.  It will clarify for many of us what really has value versus what we thought had value.  For some, this realization may come too late.  If youth can be full of hope, old age can be full of regrets.

Old age can sap our spirit.  They say growing old is not for the faint of heart.  I had a cousin that killed himself by hanging.  Another cousin that shot himself.  One of my best friends killed himself three years ago on a sunny Indian summer Sunday morning.  Even the great Thomas Jefferson mused that he had lived longer than he should have and mourned the passing of so many friends:

“one of the misfortunes of living too long is the loss of all one’s early friends and affections. when I review the ground over which I have passed since my youth, I see it strewed like a field of battle with the bodies of deceased friends. I stand like a solitary tree in a field, it’s trunk indeed erect, but its limbs fallen off, and its neighboring plants eradicated from around it.”  — From a letter of Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Brown.

Some of my friends have laughed at the idea that I have only 3647 days to live.  They point out my good health and remark that I am being too skeptical.  However, I often see obituaries that are full of people of seemingly good health who die in their forties, fifties and sixties of natural causes or cause unknown.  Why should I live past the lifetime designated by those experts who compile actuarial tables?  If the odds makers place 40 to 1 on a horse winning, I would be a fool to take less odds unless I knew something that they did not.  I certainly do not know the manner of my death or the time of my death; both of which provide an interesting question for a parlor game.  How many of us would really like to know the exact time and manner of our death?

Tomorrow and tomorrow will bring us each one day closer to death or will it be immortality?

“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.  Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.” — Ecclesiastes



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Looking at aging with the glass half full | Robby Robin's Journey
  2. Francine Sullivan
    May 12, 2019 @ 05:01:16

    On the topic of knowing the date of your death, you may want to read “The Immortalists” by Chloe Benjamin. The promotional material starts with “If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?” Not my favourite novel, but certainly on-topic for your post. Thanks for sharing your musings.



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