To Age Is Human

“Things fall apart,

The centre cannot hold.

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming

 

I’m getting older.

I don’t like to talk about it.

And yet, it doesn’t change anything. I’m still aging. So are you. So is your teacher. Your best friend. The guy who mows your grass. Your mail carrier. We’re all growing older. From the second we leave the womb, each day we wake up still breathing on this big blue marble, we’re one step closer to that eventual rendezvous with the Grim Reaper.

When I was a wee lad, I didn’t think about getting older. That was decades down the road for me. I had plenty of time to have fun, date girls and become a successful disc jockey/writer/ magician/actor/movie director.

One day as I was shaving, I discovered Mother Nature had played a cruel joke. My hair was thinning. Tiny crow footprints had appeared around my eyes. I had to squint to read a phone book. I was locked in a bloody cage match with gravity … and gravity was winning.

I’ve noticed aches and pains when I first wake up in the morning. Recently I’ve struggled with vertigo. Last week I noticed a sharp pain in my right thumb. My doctor says is tendonitis. I have heartburn so frequently that I get Christmas cards from the makers of Pepcid AC.

Things fall apart.

The human body is a medical wonder, but it’s not built to last. Bones become brittle. Eyesight and hearing fade. Muscles atrophy. Fingers and limbs are invaded by arthritis.

Time has a way of breaking things down. Stone. Rock. Even a human being made of flesh and blood, muscle, tissue, and bone. I don’t relish the thought of losing my hearing or being unable to move about without a walker, but there is something I fear much more.

Dementia.

A single human brain cell can hold five times as much information as the Encyclopedia Britannica, though most days I can’t remember where I parked the car at Walmart. And yet, this incredible computer, which uses enough energy to power a 25-watt light bulb (my own could possibly light a small match for about 5 seconds, but that’s a stretch) is composed of 80 percent water.

The brain is the body’s control center. Without a wheel to steer the vessel, the ship is helplessly adrift. Without a rational mind to remind us to eat food, to exercise, to take our medications, to sleep, to avoid dangerous situations, even a healthy body will deteriorate.

Today I remember what roads and streets lead to work. I recognize the faces of people in my life. I know to brush my teeth and hair, I know what the current year is, and I am aware that some of my family members are no longer with us. My brain is not of the same caliber of an Einstein or a Tesla or an Edison, but it gets the job done.

One day that may change. What if I forget it’s not safe to wander into traffic? What if my brain tells me it’s 1977, and I’m babbling about seeing this new movie called Star Wars? What if I abstain from bathing because my brain believes the soap is contaminated with radiation? What if I don’t recognize my own children?

I don’t think I like growing old. No sir. This aging thing is just not working out for me. Oh sure, it looks good on paper, but when you actually try and put it into action, it just doesn’t work. Too many cases of eyesight and hearing going bad, you’ve got all those reports of ladies’ hair turning blue, and nobody can see over the steering wheel to drive. It’s just too unpopular. The whole concept should be scrapped and redesigned from the ground up.

So where can I go to get a refund, sonny?

How’s that, again? Watch your mouth, you young whippersnapper!

And stay off my lawn!  78

 

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