Monday, April 04, 2011

On How Not to Get Old

As I’ve recently turned 50, my thoughts have turned to getting older. And, to be honest, I feel older to answer the hackneyed question. For good or ill (likely both), knowing that I am now 50 affects how I think about myself.

I am trying to reflect profitably. An article from First Things has furthered my thinking. As suggested in the article, the issue for me is not dying so much. Christ has already defeated death for me, thanks be to God. The issue is aging. I do not like my physical and mental functions declining though I am now in very good shape for a man of any age. I frankly do not like getting even uglier either, although that does not bother me too much.

Oh well. Jesus is coming May 21st, so I won’t have to bother with aging anyway.

Nevertheless, I have been thinking of good models to follow and of truths to remember as I get older. But first I’d like to dispense with negative models I’ve seen through the years.

I am sure all my readers have seen bitter old men on the highways hunched over their steering wheels going 15 miles under the speed limit, not caring about the traffic issues they are creating. Once I passed such a gentlemen driving an ancient pick-up and turned to a younger passenger and told him, “If I ever get that old, you have my permission to shoot me.”

Related are those who rise up against any efforts to reform Social Security even though it is headed toward a bankruptcy that would greatly burden their grandchildren. I think the average senior today is wiser about this subject than seniors twenty years ago, but that kind of selfishness still sticks in my craw. It is really another version of the selfishness one often sees on the road. I indeed hope I never get that way.

Another negative model I have seen among the aging is denial. Some time back, it was fashionable among the elderly (if the elderly ever are fashionable), to say “I’m x years young.” I cannot quite put my finger on why I have always found that cloying, but I do. Others try to stay young in ways that make them look silly.

Now this sort of denial is a temptation for me as I would rather stay somewhat young. I hope I do not embarrass myself that way. Although some elderly seem to be beyond embarrassment . . . which may be a good model to follow.

A negative model that is most definitely not a temptation for me is to segregate oneself from the young. Senior communities where children and youth are not allowed to live are among the examples of this. I long ago prayed that I would always have little brothers to be a big brother to. And God has been faithful in answering that prayer. Again and again in scripture, the Biblical model is for the older to pass on wisdom and the faith to the younger. And that certainly cannot be done by age segregation. Not to mention age segregation just seems a sterile existence to me.

Well, enough of negative models of getting older, for now at least. I probably have offended enough of my readers already. In due time, I will here reflect on positive models of getting older.

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