I was talking to an old man a few days ago. Actually, he wasn’t all that old, maybe in his 70’s, but he was complaining about the negative effects of growing old. I had other things that I would rather be doing, but I stood and listened to him anyway.
He said, “My body has betrayed me. It refuses to do all the things it used to do. How did this happen?”
Being a would-be counselor-to-the-world, I tried one of the quotes I had heard so often. I said, “You know, age is just a state of mind.”
“BULL SHIT,” he exclaimed. “Old age is damn hard! I doesn’t matter what my mind says, my body still says I’m old. My hair has turned white, and a lot of it has fallen out. My get up and go, has got up and gone. Getting old is not for sissies.”
Again, I tried to comfort him by saying, “Your age is just the number of years the world has been able to enjoy your presence.” He repeated his previous exclamation.
He went on to explain to me all the unwanted symptoms of old age. He included things like loss of memory, loss of flexibility, and partial loss of vision. He talked about how he wished his body could bounce back from injury and strain the way it used to do.
“My blood pressure is up, my libido is down. My skin is sagging, my ass is dragging. People say I don’t look my age, my body says ‘No matter what they say, I still feel every year.’ ”
One more time, I tried to make him feel better by saying, “Don’t worry about growing old, it’s not a privilege offered to everyone.” (I really hate cliches.)
“Privilege, my ass! From where I stand it doesn’t seem like much of a privilege to me. So many things have slowed down – my reflexes, my gait, my metabolism. I’m less tolerant and less agile. My joints ache, my belly pooches, and I grow hair on my ears.”
“Gosh, I’m sorry you’re so miserable,” I sympathized, “You just need to hang in there.”
“Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not miserable. I’m married to my best friend in the world, I have no financial worries, my health is good, and I still have all my teeth. All in all, my life is great. I just don’t like being old.”
We should all be so lucky.