Creative aging is not an abrupt thing. Some persons are resourceful and creative and are able to face aging with serenity. Others find old age a burden since they have nothing to occupy their time. I think of my friend James who fills his days with visits to neighboring hospitals where he cheers the sick by chatting with them.
As I age, my attitude changes. For example, I am more than content to remain at home. I am less inclined to go places. But I have not lost interest in life. I am thankful for eyesight that enables me to read and to keep abreast of what is happening in the world. These things have made aging a quiet and painless experience for me.
I always had a lot of interests. I try to keep variety in my life.
Some people program themselves to be “old” so that they can gain sympathy and attention from others. It may be an excuse for not squarely engaging life.
The comedian George Burns relates: “I may be whistling in the dark, but I don’t intend to get old. I was out with my wife one day and I saw two elderly men get out of a car with four women, two of whom were widows. I said to my wife, ‘When we get to that stage do not ask me to go out to dinner with old people because I am not going to go. I know what they talk about. How are you feeling? How are your legs feeling? This that and the other thing.’
I intend to stay alive my whole life. I plan to finish my book. Secondly, I am going to the nearest nursery school and tell them they have just acquired a grandfather. I am going to a church nearby and tell the pastor that I am an experienced counselor and want to join the staff for a couple of afternoons a week.”
Beethoven in his last years of life produced the string quartets which today are of much excitement to scholars, for this was the fruit of contemplation and suffering. Beethoven began to see how his suffering could be a component part of his creative ability. He died a peaceful man.
Too many people have made themselves dependent on what others will do for them of think of them. What are people going to say? At one point you have to make up your mind not to be bothered by what others think or say. I am not scared of not having things that other people think are important. If you set material goals you may have to pay a price for it.
I think I would like to be part of the Japanese culture. In the Japanese culture, people focus on the value of elders. We should prize, relish, and respect their resources of wisdom and experiences.
My message about aging would be to struggle to keep growing and keep from getting bitter and resentful at being rejected. When I retired I wondered what I would ever do. One cannot get mired in one’s own thoughts. One has to do one’s own stirring to stir the waters or else one stagnates.
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