In your most private moments, what do you think about aging? Does advancing seniority fill you with distaste, or with relief? Apprehension or contentment? Are you grinning or grimacing?
What image of aging first pops into your mind’s eye? More memory-making with the grandkids? More midnight shuffles to the bathroom? A lengthening shelf of unpronounceable pills? A closet-full of business attire dry-cleaned for schlepping to Goodwill?
Have you dreams deferred or nagging irritations? A Danube cruise? Elusive words on the tip of your tongue? Performing with the Community Players? Being nibbled to death by ducks?
Like most of my peers, I’m aware the aging glass is both half-empty and half-full. We have to take the sour with the sweet. But it’s my impression that we tend to over-emphasize seniority’s downsides. If that’s correct, this reflexive pessimism exacts a high price. Not only can it impair our mental and emotional health. It can also neglect and undervalue seniority’s rich offsetting opportunities, passions and pleasures. This blog is dedicated to helping rebalance the scales. I want to make the case for a positive approach to growing old.
The coronavirus has exacted a horrific toll, infecting over 120 million victims worldwide, killing nearly three million. Problematic variant outbreaks continue to flare. But pandemic lockdowns and isolation have also inspired adaptive creativity – telemedicine consultations; working and learning from home; Zoom calls and conferences; remote performances, lectures and panels; exchanged video clips and entertainments.
I’ve been particularly impressed and encouraged by the blossoming of creative writing by fellow seniors. Retirement invites reflection. Isolation seems to have nourished a distinctive vintage.
I’d like to devote this month’s post to three diverse samples, reproduced with their authors’ permission. My hope is that these evocations may stimulate your own Agile Aging energies.
Russell Sunshine worked for 40 years in 40 countries as an international development lawyer and independent policy advisor to foreign governments. Now retired back in America, he’s writing non-fiction and practicing agile aging on California’s Central Coast. Russell’s memoir, Far & Away: True Tales from an International Life, is available on Amazon. Click Here