Sunday, 13 December 2009

How do you cope with this?

"Getting old is like falling in love for the first time - you have to discover it for yourself in all its density and richness." (Martin Amis)

One thing is for certain - we all get old - everything on the planet does. But how we approach it and how we deal with it is such an individual thing. My brother, Jack, used to say that from the moment we are born death has got his eye on us. I used to think this a morbid view of life (although my brother enjoyed life immensely for his allotted sixty-six years), but just maybe it is a healthy attitude to construct because we are none of us immortal; some have longer than others but maybe quality is much more important than quantity here.
Martin Amis went on to say, in a debate on "Literature and Ageing" at Manchester University's Centre for new writing, that in one's mid-fifties death becomes intrigued by you and "starts sniffing you up."
Do you, dear blog friends, find approaching old age a depressing prospect, or do you embrace it as the inevitable consequence of being born and make the most of it? Alright, so signs of vigour are waning: my knees creak when I climb the stairs, I feel the effects of walking up the incline in the lane in my hips, which seem to stiffen instantly in protest, and I no longer stand on a chair to clean high windows being all too aware of the consequence of a sudden dizzy spell. But on the brighter side of that my eyesight is no longer good enough to see the cobwebs on the high window anyway!
Clive James says that at 70 he seems to have found a new form of strength. Hs says, "I want to retain the right to feel vigorous when all the signs of vigour are on the way out!" He cites another form of vigour - vigour of mentality - and I would agree with that.
Regardless of one's life style one has to do things more slowly. Therefore one has more time to think and to mull over the pros and cons of issues that are of concern - to decide what is really important and to discard triviality.
Both physically and metaphorically, if walking down the lane these days means going more slowly, then it also means having more time to notice the ephemera - the skeletal holly leaf, the cleverly-marked feather, the last harebell in the hedge-bottom, the last rosehip, glowing like a ruby, in the hedge. I can stand and listen to the robin's shrill little song and enjoy it while leaning on the field gate and gathering strength to walk back up the hill.
Do you remember the first time you fell in love (to go back to Martin Amis's premise at the beginning of my post)? I certainly do. In fact another aspect of growing old is that one can view such events through rose-tinted bifocals.
And how do you deal with ageing? Regardless of your age now, make no mistake you are ageing and we all have to cope with it on a daily basis. Do you embrace it, make the most of it, value it for what it is? Well I am pretty certain that readers of this do exactly that - after all you are not just sitting by the fire in your slippers and dozing, are you? No, you are out there doing things, writing about them, constantly thinking, "what can I put on my blog today."
As some one once said (surely it was a Yorkshireman!) - live each day as if it is your last but spend your money as though you are going to live for ever." Not sure about that last bit On the day that death comes knocking on my door I don't think I want a purse full of money - a clear conscience is much more important. Have a lovely Sunday wherever you may be spending it.

23 comments:

Sal said...

Great post! And very wise words at the end of it!
We tend to forget our ages and act our shoe sizes..and if people don't like that, then tough!
We're on this earth for such a short time so make the very best of it and have a good laugh too,is what I say!
;-)

Dave King said...

I must endorse Sal's sentiments, even though I also saw the quote and thought, briefly, that I might post on it. Couldn't follow that, though. Top rate.

Robin Mac said...

Love the post. My mother when aged in her nineties said that her body might be getting old but she still thought like a woman in her thirties - I would like others to think that of me also. I feel old age is a matter of attitude - some are old almost before they are born, and others, even in great affliction, still seem young at heart. cheers, Robin

Arija said...

Dear Weaver, what has set you to this train of thought, although I like your way of putting it. Getting older, old and dieing is such an inevitable part of life that it is best to embrace it and live it to its fullest savouring every moment. I certainly do.

Golden West said...

I'm all for making the most of what one has and trying to take nothing for granted, be it good health or the blessing of loved ones. There's a saying that sums it up for me, "Today is the gift, that's why it's called the present."

steven said...

hello weaver, i'm just past fifty two and a bit. my mortality isn't something i dwell on although as my hair recedes and my body doesn't bounce back quite as quickly from hard bike rides, my children both draw attention to their concerns about my eventual flying away. i tell them truthfully, death doesn't frighten me at all.
positively, i try to retain as many childlike qualities about my existence as is reasonable!
have a lovely day in the dale. steven

Pondside said...

I think you could spend a week blogging on this subject, Weaver. The western world is so enamoured of youth - face lifts, endless step classes, botox. We tend to forget the gifts of aging - the ones you've so beautifully enumerated. My mother's mother died at a very young age, and my parents spend their child-raising years in communities in which there were no elderly people. I see my mother, now in her eighties, struggling with aging - she never had a good example. On the other hand, I have a friend, of the same age as my mother - I love to be with her because of the things she sees and shares, taking her time to enjoy every bit of the years alloted to her.

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

Happily I have lived long enough to have an opinion on this subject. The fact is, we have no control over when we will die. It could be today, tomorrow or many years from now. We do have control over how we care for our bodies, which in turn will allow us to live life to the fullest. It is so important to eat right and exercise (cardio and weight lifting) so that our bodies retain the ability to balance and the strength to support ourselves. Did you know that regular weight lifting (both men and women) causes our bones to densify? Therefore, we can reverse the perils of bone loss simply by doing a simple exercise routine 3-4 times a week. How great is that? Broken hips usually are the result of losing ones balance and falling. Couple that with weak bones and you have a broken hip. Statistics show that once a person breaks a hip they only live an average of two years more!

As far as age goes, I feel blessed by each day. I now accept things without too much stressing, finally understanding that there are few things in life that you actually have control of. The Serenity Prayer has become my mantra. I look forward to many more years on earth with my loved ones, but should that not be the case I am prepared. Simply thank God for that which He has given us.

Have a great day, Weaver. I really would love to see the finished Book of Poetry.

Heather said...

Bob Hope said 'Old age is not for wimps', and that is a warning of grim times ahead - maybe. Some of us get off lightly with old age, and have all our faculties right to the end. I am an optimist and hope this will be the case for me. I don't mind less mobility but dread becoming confused and distressed, but we can't pick and choose and must just cope with whatever we are sent. In the meantime I shall try to remember to make the most of the good health I have.

Leenie said...

You post is very thought provoking and well written. I agree with the importance of a clear conscience. My family of children and grandchildren and the ability to enjoy them is a true treasure. When it comes to years I want quality not quantity.

Granny Sue said...

When my parents passed away a few years ago, it became clear quite suddenly that we-my siblings and I-were now at the front of the line. Before their passing, my parents and their generation stood between us and death. Now we're face to face with our mortality. How I feel about it is complex. I rue the aching bones and stiff muscles and loss of perfect sight. At the same time there is richness, and understanding of what is worth fighting about and what really is not, and clarity of appreciation for each little thing.

I remember thinking when I was in my forties that I might only see the iris bloom 30 or 40 more times. That was a painful awakening. But the year before my father died, he planted primroses, expecting to see them in the spring. His optimism is what I strive for, but sometimes I feel such sadness about the things I wish to do and may never have the opportunity to experience. And yet...each day is a new gift, and inside me I feel as young as I ever did. It's a conundrum indeed.

Mistlethrush said...

Thoughtful post Weaver. Age is something I live with but try not to think too hard about. There's still so much I want to do so I just hope I have time and health enough to do it.

MarmaladeRose said...

Hmmm. Lot's to think about! Good post Weaver.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Terrified of ageing and death,even reading your post, as wonderful as it is, made me sad.I don't like the thought of death knocking anyone's door, specially not mine and I realise as I read it, not yours either.The funny thing is I read the Amis quote and missed (fading eyesight, old age creeping) the 'in love' bit, which made more sense to me ,but I couldn't figure the density and richness bit, so read it again and got his proper, to me more unlikely, meaning.It's a funny old world, and an even funnier old life and I can't make head nor tail of it anymore.Wish I was young again and free of thought.

dinesh chandra said...

What is our thinking process, It depend upon us how we think about the ageing. As per my view I as A HUMAN BEING always remember death , It is universal truth, If we know death is unavoidable, so without thinking about more, live life for one day basis , enjoy every moment of life, never think that you r ageing , Live according to our age , always think the pros and cons of aging in mind and live as per the conditions and enjoy.

The ageing also give us confident in our smooth living. make us mature to think good.

Regards

Dinesh Chandra

Hildred and Charles said...

Well Weaver, I am sitting here pondering your post. I no longer anticipate old age, having already reached the ancient years, but neither do I dwell on it. It is true you go slower, but life grows richer, and within you lives the person you were when you were a child, first in love, a wife and mother, and finally it is true, - old age is like falling in love as there is a certain sharpness and appreciation of all your senses as you savour the time left to you.

There is always so much to learn and to experience, and if you're lucky and have more or less decent health the rose within is still as fresh as ever.

Penny said...

Weaver I have left a link to your blog and this post in particular on my Back valley seasons blog, with my thoughts on it. I hope you can find it.Penny

Reader Wil said...

Beautiful and encouraging post. One of our queens once said:"If tomorrow was my last day, I planted a tree today!"
I am glad about what you said of the cobwebs! All my friends, who used to be very clean in their houses, have bad eyesights. So if I forget to remove a cobweb they hardly ever see it anymore.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Everyone over fifty should read these comments - they are about as uplifting as it is possible to get when thinking about old age. Well done all of you - it is as I expected - bloggers (who have by definition embraced the computer age) will not give in to old age and will continue to ignore the creaks and groans of joints, the poor eyesight, the feeble hearing and all the other irritating things and will go forth still feeling twenty inside!
TFE - be of good cheer - you are in the company of cheerful and positive oldies.

Poet in Residence said...

I find I agree with Kummel Cornell aka Wislon. I think strengthening the bones by excercise is extremely important. Every day, unless the weather or circumstance defeats me, I run up the nearest hills to where I happen to be. I therefore lift my own weight, 75 kilos, between 250 and 900 mtrs depending on my mood. I want to continue running forever, even when I'm 92 like the Indian guy I saw in the London Marathon a few years ago. It's a way.
"I go to the hills from whence cometh my strength!"

Sara said...

I used to fall victim to the fakery that social media seems to suggest that women in particular should embrace. TV & glossy mags would have us believe that we must strive to look younger in order to still be desirable & valuable in society. Then one day I threw out the hair dye & the ridiculously expensive lotions & potions that had lured me to part with my hard earned cash in return for the vague promise that they may keep any wrinkles at bay. Using them really went against all I believe in. I am 41, my hair is going grey, my face is naturally full of laughter lines & it will wrinkle. This is the way of things. I am not any less a person. I am not loved any less by my family & friends. My life continues as happily as it ever did, but I am a lot kinder to myself & the environment! I fully intend to grow old gracefully.

Loren said...

It's hard not to be ambivalent about old age. I hate it when my body won't do something that it has always done before and finally seems to be saying "Enough."

I'd have to say, though, that retirement has been nearly the best part of my lfie with time to finally pursue interests that aren't "profitable."

Realizing this can't go on forever makes each day more meaningful than it's ever been before.

The Solitary Walker said...

Oh, heck, Weaver! I'm now exactly 55. Expecting to be 'sniffed up' at any moment! Will see whether this is a depressing or embrace-able thing. Report later...