Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Takes Some Getting Used To

I have just finished reading "The View in Winter," by Ronald Blythe, an esteemed old English man of letters. He was not old when he published his 1979 collection of interviews w/ old people (ranging from 70s to 100+); but he managed to beautifully reveal how it feels to get old! It feels surprising, but if you go on long enough, you will adapt.

The author notes, "It always comes as a shock.....After you have become old, you get older!" I.e., It doesn't take long to get old, but you can BE old for a very long time.

One reason we're surprised it is that when young we never think about being old. How can they; having not been there yet? Furthermore, the old seldom think about being middle-aged. They think about childhood, when they were more nearly who they are now. In fact, in the middle of reading these essays, I remembered myself as a young reader studying my parents' "The Child From Five to Ten" by those Yale psychologists (Gesell and Ilg). Here I am old and still trying to understand my own development.

Seems I am aging normally: e.g., there was an increasing amount of idling found among the elderly. The old spoke of struggling to stay active, and many give in to torpidity too soon. It becomes harder to do anything any more and takes longer. E.g., I have spent most of the morning writing this. Many spoke of the daily pain and debilitation; one reaches a point where one never really feels well any more. One woman who had been disabled since youth remarked it made growing old easier because she was used to it.

Yes, we "grow" old, continuing to develop. (My conclusion, not Blythe's). A nursing home matron comments, "Very old real Christians get beyond ministry. Whatever it is they've got to have at the end, it is waiting to be found inside them." After a while, the matron continues, they "have got used to being old. It is ordinary to them and they hardly ever discuss it... You accept being near death and having no strength, and your face all funny." So these old folks went from resenting their aging to finding it a shock, to clinging to independence to getting "beyond all that."

Conclusion to be drawn: you will get used to seeing but never being seen. To reading but never being read.



Anonymous Septuagenarian said...

I enjoy your blogs so much! Especially about "growing old!" Since that seems to be the story of my life at the moment. I identify with it all!

11:02 AM  

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