Old Age: Some Reflections

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What is this ‘old age’ which seems to have insensibly and sensibly crept into the recesses of my life, since about the age of 50? This grey eminence seems to be the result of a combination of factors which I will list below and as follows:

a need for testosterone shots to compensate for failing energies back in '99 as I was about to retire; the loss of libido which was as strong as ever until my prostate gland needed reducing in size; putting on weight--some 80 pounds--from my 40s to my 60s; increasing quantities of white-and-grey hair; not feeling the heat of enthusiasm and desire for physical activity that once characterized my life year in and year out due to yet another medication package; the simple incremental advance of late adulthood those years from 60 to 80 according and one model of human development used by psychologists.

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Old Age: Some Reflections

  1. 1. OLD AGE Part 1: What is this ‘old age’ which seems to have insensibly and sensibly crept into the recesses of my life, since about the age of 50? This grey eminence seems to be the result of a combination of factors which I will list below and as follows: a need for testosterone shots to compensate for failing energies back in '99 as I was about to retire; the loss of libido which was as strong as ever until my prostate gland needed reducing in size; putting on weight--some 80 pounds--from my 40s to my 60s; increasing quantities of white-and-grey hair; not feeling the heat of enthusiasm and desire for physical activity that once characterized my life year in and year out due to yet another medication package; the simple incremental advance of late adulthood those years from 60 to 80 according and one model of human development used by psychologists. And there is more: Part 2: the fatiguing effects of life’s inevitable repetitions especially the massive quantities of talking that have been necessary in classrooms as a teacher, and in any community of people one associates with; a certain discouragement as a result of the same sort of volunteer secretarial work that had occupied me for decades; the meagre response on the part of the public to several of my evangelical enthusiasms for several causes after forty years of teaching and consolidation work within the context of these group-enthusiasms; the rigors of many moves, many towns, many jobs; and the residual effects from decades of suffering from a bi-polar I disorder. These and other factors play and have played a complex and, in some ways, a quite indefinable role in bringing on the first feelings, slowly and mostly unobtrusively, of old age. I took
  2. 2. some comfort in reading that the first existentialist, one Soren Kierkegaard, said he felt old when he was born.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Five Epochs, Published Manuscript, 2014. Part 3: However personal and idiosyncratic my autobiography is, it should be seen, in part at least, as yet one more of the multitude of facets of the fascinating and world-wide process of the emergence into old-age that occurs in the life of Everyman, a process that has been taking place, arguably, since the beginnings of Homo Sapiens Sapiens, if not before, as far back as Homo Heidelbergensis, or in the half million years before him, when the first proto-humans arrived on this planet.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Five Epochs, Published Manuscript, 2014. I seek myself here, unquestionably, a route toward expansion and awareness, a road to creativity, a dialogue: between innocence and experience, past and present, child, adolescent, young adult, middle adult, old adult and old age, boy and man, father and son, man and society, community and I--- in the storm of thoughts forever blowing in my head, as they have for as far back as I can remember: and don't talk to me of meditation and making my brain empty.1 1 With thanks to Mark Twain and Robert Lee in First Person Singular: Studies in American Autobiography, Vision Press, London, 1988, p.93 and 79, respectively. --Ron Price 2/4/'00 to 3/3/'14. ----------------------------------------------- OLD AGE Some find in old age that the mind loses its edge from the long habit of the same perceptions which no longer leave any
  3. 3. impression. This is the vanished freshness of the world, the silence on the part of things. They lose their edge. Others experience a swallowing up of the present by a too-strongly experienced past, too many memories. For still others the past becomes a desert, empty, little to draw on to make more of the present. Still others find the dreaming mind, its memories and its imaginations, enriching. Rousseau, the famous French philosopher, found this enrichment in his long aimless walks. It is by the light of our projects and our activities, writes Simone de Beauvoir, a more modern philosopher, that the world reveals itself, that fresh vision gives us life. Many find it hard to find new interests in old age. Churchill found this. The preservation of an intellectual appetite, or curiosity, into old age is crucial. John Stuart Mill, still another philosopher between the early modern age and the modern age, wrote that his curiosity withered; whereas Andre Gide, a writer, retained his extreme preoccupation with ideas until his last days when his spirit fell into boredom with no goals left. Proust, another writer, described his final months and days as possessing a kind of physical gentleness, of striking detachment from the realities of life. Jonathan Swift, a third writer, was reduced to a complete inertia and indifference.-Ron Price with thanks to Simone de Beauvoir, Old Age, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1972, pp. 449- 460. Will there be a scent of sadness and despondency, a desolation of hopes into a quiet solitude? That's the way it was for Henry Adams; I read once upon a time. This is what all accomplishment, all realization, leaves in one's heart; at least that is the case for some, but not for everyone. I find that there is in this, the evening of my life, some degree of ecstacy; I prefer to keep such
  4. 4. an experience quietly under my belt, & not go around telling of my inner joy. Who wants to hear about my inner joy when so many never experience it at all as old-age creeps upon them and as the years go on in their petty-pace from day to day until the last syllable of their time? Ron Price 3/3/'14.

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