Aging: as the saying goes, “It beats the alternative.” I have searched the internet for the origins of this cliché and there is no definitive answer but lots of suggestions. You could say the same about the benefits of aging: there is no definitive answer but lots of ideas. To me, either you live long enough to age or you don’t. If you live long enough, life inevitably changes in good ways and not-so-good ways.
Since I have been laid up for the past month with a giant sling as my constant companion, I have been reading and thinking about the physical effects of aging. (I don’t recommend this if you have any tendencies towards depression.) There are lots of books on the subject, some of them written by aging Baby Boomers who seem to be as shocked as I am that we are growing old.
If you don’t have time to read a whole book because you’re too busy with physical therapy appointments and Zumba classes, check out The New Yorker’s November 4, 2019 issue. Arthur Krystal’s column, “Old News,” is a gem. In addition to an extensive list with short descriptions of books about aging, Krystal’s own views on the subject are insightful and often funny. For example:
Vain, self-centered people will likely find aging less tolerable than those who seek meaning in life by helping others. And those fortunate enough to have lived a full and productive life may exit without undue regret. But if you’re someone who—oh, for the sake of argument—is unpleasantly surprised that people in their forties or fifties give you a seat on the bus…you just might resent time’s insistent drumbeat.
I’m with Arthur. The time a fifty-something woman offered me her seat on BART, I balked until my husband nudged me and said “Just take the seat.” It was a “senior moment” of an altogether different kind.
Have a good week.