Thursday, February 23, 2017

Lament of a Dinosaur

When I was in my forties, I noticed that many people in their seventies seemed to be suffering from future shock.  There were too many changes, too many losses.  Too much activity around them, disrupting their familiar rhythms.  Too much information. Too many new things to learn.  Instead of helping their grandchildren with their homework, they were asking them for technical advice to operate their television remotes.

Today, I know how it feels to navigate the Labyrinth of Creeping Senility.  It seems that nobody under fifty can begin to understand where I am coming from.  I'm a dinosaur, trapped in a cumbersome, ever-deteriorating body, watching newly-minted mammals scurry about, taking over my world. 

Mother Theresa said that the greatest poverty of all is to be unwanted, unloved, and uncared for.   While I have sometimes felt unwanted, unloved and uncared for, logic tells me that I have never actually been in that pit of desolation.  My personal poverty is the overwhelming feeling that I have nothing more to offer to anyone.  Life as I know it is over.

The classic advice for this state of mind is to find something to do.  Broaden your horizons, learn new skills, meet new people, help the less fortunate.  Forget yourself and your woes, and your serotonin levels will soar. Your endorphins will dance again.  Think positively, and you, too, can stop the clock and be as old as you think you are.  You can become the very model of a modern centenarian, celebrating life on the cover of Zoomer in full belly-dance regalia..

It is great to dream about alluring opportunities, to browse possibilities, to make plans for an endless parade of adventures.  But then morning comes.   Just getting out of bed is my personal Mount Everest.  Once upon a time, I could be showered, dressed, and ready to go in 20 minutes.  Now the process takes about an hour and a half.  And I'm just in the early stages of ageing.  How long will it take when I'm ninety?

Beating myself up for my uselessness is not going to accomplish anything.  The best alternative I can think of is to invent some creative uselessness, seasoned with laughter.  

The past is past.  But, until further notice, there is still a future to be explored and celebrated.  Love can flourish at any age. Beauty and joy will always be right in front of me, if I choose to see them.  Human life, despite its chronic toil and tribulation, is a banquet of miracles.  Even when my steps slow down, the dance goes on.

Today may be the last day I have.  It is mine to seize.  This dinosaur is not extinct yet.

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