The title of this post comes from an essay I'm eager to share with you. Click here to read the full article.
It was written by Charlotte Wood, originally for The Griffith Review, a literary magazine from Australia; and now published by The Guardian.
This essay's title is "What Are We Really Afraid of When We Think of Old Age? Ms. Wood writes from the POV of a woman in her mid 50's, and begins her essay with this question:
"In a black-and-white thinking culture, how should we consider the richness of who we are in old age?"
I really like thinking about "the richness" of old age. Mine is proving to be so.
Not far into the article, she mentions an elderly gerontologist she met at a dinner. He recounted tales of some of his patients and at one point.. I quote her here:
"Later, he asked me: “How many years of your life would you trade for a Booker Prize?”
“What?! None!” I replied. I was surprised at the vehemence and speed of my answer, and that I knew it to be absolutely true.
Then he asked, “What if they were the years between 85 and 95?”
Would you trade some of your years for anything? Would you if you could pick the years?
"Our predictions for old age foresee an epoch of physical incapacity and psychic misery, in contrast with our vital, flourishing youth. But last night on my couch I spent five minutes scribbling down a list of the troubles that plagued me and those in my social circle – middle class, well educated, well resourced – before we turned 50."
She follows this with a list of illnesses, conditions, and other frailties that she knows of among her younger friends. The list she came up with is about 3-4 times as long as the quoted paragraph above.
Attitudes about aging vary widely. This is clear in her article. What is also clear is that most of the harsher attitudes come from the Youngers among us. We old folks tend to take it much better, "finding greater contentment, more peace, more comfort with ambiguity, deeper gratitude, and a focus on more meaningful engagement in the present."
I'm tempted to quote more, but then you'd have nothing to read!