Friday, September 5, 2008

Grace? Or Gravity?

Posted by Terry McNichols

Here is a quote that is an example of the "grace" perspective that is part of our blog:
“People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope as old as your despair. In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber. So long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, so long are you young. When your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and then only, are you grown old. And then, indeed as the ballad says, you just fade away.” -- General Douglas MacArthur
And on the "gravity" side of things, here is another way of looking at old age, from Nora Ephron's book, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman:
I loathed being sixty-four, and I will hate being xisty-five. I don't let on about such things in person: in person I am cheerful and Pollyannaish. But the honest truth is that it's sad to be over sixty. The long shadows are everywhere -- friends dying and battling illness. A miasma of melancholy hangs there, forcing you to deal with the fact that your life, however happy and successful, has been full of disappointments and mistakes, little ones and big ones. There are dreams that are never quite going to come true, ambitions that will never quite be realized. There are, in short, regrets . . . There are all sorts of books written for older women . . uniformly upbeat and full of bromides and homilies about how pleasant life can be . . . I find these books utterly useless . . . Why do people write books that say it's better be older than to be yhounger? It's not better. Even if you have all your marbles, you're constantly reaching for the name of the person you met the day before yesterday. Even if you're in great shape, you can't chop an onion the way you used to and you can't ride a bicycle several miles without becoming a candidate for traction. . . . A magazine editor called and asked me to write something on [aging]. . . . she said 'You know what drives me nuts? Why do women our age say, "In my day. . .?" THIS is our day. But it isn't our day. It's their day, we're just hanging on.
If you can bear to read the entire closing section of her book, you will find it here.
It actually gets worse! I didn't want to fill our blog with her depressing statements. This comes at the end of what reviewers say is a very humorous book. But there doesn't seem to be a lot to look forward to in her view of aging. According to General MacArthur, Nora Ephron has indeed "grown old." I'll bet she's cranky, too!

(Photo by bk86a, Flickr)

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