Change and Aging
Tom Meyer led a recent discussion at our Quaker meeting on the topic of “Aging.” He began with his own thoughts, which he had written out. I thought readers of the Red Electric might find them interesting and insightful.
By Tom Meyer
Getting older is tricky.
On the one hand we are supposed to be conscious beings. We can conceive of ourselves not being and watch ourselves thinking — or so we say.
But I think it is an imperfect system at best, because I have definitely changed as I have gotten older, although it is not obvious to me how.
Oscar Wilde suggests that the tragedy is not that we get old but that we stay young or even get clearer (less driven by hormones and passions).
I think that is true though I am not always conscious of it.
I am less adventuresome and less energetic. I am more patient. I am not so driven by passions. I am less idealistic and less driven by ideals. Perhaps I see the world more as it is and less as it should be.
Yet I am convinced I am the same person. Other people react to me differently. I am not always attractive to the people I am attracted to, but I also realize that sometimes that attraction leads to a burden. I think that is OK, but sometimes not.
We like the music and the sexual partners of our youth, but realize with the latter that it will not work out. Our issues are different.
I am not searching for a profession or how I will fit in or interact with the world.
I am not debating about whether to have children and how many and with whom.
I am contemplating retirement. I am contemplating health insurance and wills and trusts.
And yet I feel I am the same person.
Other people treat me differently. I am no longer a sexual player no matter how interested I am in someone or how helpful I could be in straightening out someone's crooked life.
I have less faith in people, places or things to change my life.
I am more concerned with the equation of health vs. injury. I take longer to heal.
I take more responsibility for my life and spend less time blaming others.
I have less faith in our political, economic and school systems.
I require less novelty and do not feel I have to be a cutting-edge consumer.
I do not care whether most people are picking my own direction for life.
I do not have enough time to spend it focused on television shows, sports, or the 24-hour news cycle.
I do not trust charismatic people to change my life or to have my best interests at heart.
I have only so much energy and realize my responsibility in figuring out how to expend it. I do not have enough time to spend with alcohol, street drugs, or fast food.
I am involved in several healthy practices like yoga, aerobic exercise, journaling, and conversation, but I am not trying to convert anyone to my causes.
I have learned that a healthy life is its own reward.
While I feel I am the same person, I am clearly not.