I was just a kid of, let's see, age 57, and believe me, I knew more than I know now, 12 years later. I was prone to including in my practice The Five Remembrances (which you can find at the very bottom of this blog), for the purpose of being in touch with grim realities. So my unspoken reaction to Jim's astonishment was, Jim, you're 80. Of course you're old. Get it over it.
But now I know that somehow age does creep up on you. Watching yourself change is rather like watching a sunset, as I have often done, speculating on just how I would make that color with watercolors. But "that color" is already gone, no longer apricot, now in the soft coral range, and so on. And I didn't see it change. I just see that it changed when I glanced away.
As I have gone around doing little quality-of-life things today, I have had the thought that the word "old" or even "age" is a concept, a label that tends to be encumbered by judgements firmly implanted by our culture. It amused me to look up a quote from Satchel Paige, whose autobiography is titled Maybe I'll Pitch Forever---
Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, age don't matter.
|Satchel Paige in younger days|
I'm just carrying on here because yesterday I woke up slowly from a long, good sleep, to realize my middle back was hurting, right there in the spine where there are severely deteriorated bones. After a sleep like that I usually (or used to) wake up relaxed and pain-free.
It would all be so much easier if Wun felt that getting older meant automatically advancing to a position of respect, if Wun became An Elder Who Had Seen Many Things. The baby Boomers, who are a few years behind me, have famously changed the culture at every age they went through. But they've got the wrong idea about age: they think you can prevent it. Like Ponce de Leon, looking for the Fountain of Youth, and he really was, I gather.
What I'd like to see happen is for the Boomers to realize old age is (usually) inevitable, and that our best shot is to make it gleam. I know they can do it if they try.
And here's an irresistable bonus (from Wikipedia)
Paige's Guide to Longevity
To a world that marveled at his stamina as a 59-year-old pitcher, Satchel Paige often offered these ''master's maxims'' as his guide to longevity:
1. Avoid fried meats, which angry up the blood.
2. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.
3. Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.
4. Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society. The social rumble ain't restful.
5. Avoid running at all times.
6. Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you.
[The puppy photo is from a blog by a very much younger woman.]