Journal February 28, 2001.

What is it like for me to be 88ish?

I have been reading a newly published book by John Jerome, "On Turning Sixty-Five". He had been an Editor and Columnist; he has also written several other books. He has written perceptively on what it was like for him to be sixty-fiveish. The world that Jerome perceived in the year 2000 was unique and personal; quite different from the world that I, or anyone else, perceived.


I was Sixty-five in 1978. Jerome would have been about Forty-three; his more youthful perceptions then could not have been in any way like mine. I was well aware that medical definitions would describe me as being "old".

Then I wrote philosophically in my 1978 journal: "It is time to let go of false egotism about the importance of my eternity. 6000 years is all we know of any real kind of recorded history. About 300 generations of my ancestors. I don't know much about even one generation; less about two or three. Most probably lived far fewer years than the proverbial three-score and ten. More of us seem to reach that magic limit these days but it doesn't mean we have more of youth. Rather, we just have more of old age. We have more time for stiff joints, diming senses, fading energy.

"And of course I die because, biologically, I am not supposed to live forever. I have reproduced, I have made my genetic contribution. Now I contribute nothing to natural selection and evolution. I am just clogging up the landscape and consuming food which is more useful for younger generations."


One of my contemporary friends has indicated that "It's not much fun getting older".

Jerome observed that with age you begin to recognize the necessity of making physical and mental efforts to hold off the effects of aging. No such effort is required in our youthful days. He includes a quotation which seems relevant: "Often we regard work as one of adulthoods' unpleasant adjuncts.... but in some other cultures work is seen merely as doing whatever you are doing at that particular moment in your life. For children, work is play".

Jerome also quotes a psychologist who observed that work [activity] which is useful, which you can finish, and which is absorbing enough to temporarily erase your sense of self and alter your sense of time, can become enjoyment. It can get sweeter as you get older.

Although it does occasionally take a great deal of positive attitudinal thinking, I try to regard household and yard maintenance activities as beneficial "physical exercise" rather than work; journal writing as enjoyable "mental productivity" rather than tedious scribbling. I define my bottle of life as "half full" rather than "half empty".

As my Father would have said: "Worth pondering!".


Adjacent entries.

Journal February 19.:
Journal March 11.: