Is intensity as you get older unattractive and foolish and not meant to be? .
|For These Times
Is intensity as you get older unattractive and foolish and not meant to be? .
Adjusting to what he saw
(Observations of dad from about 10 years ago)
My dad is not often in a good mood lately. At 91 being a 24/7 care giver to my mom plus other things gets to his nerves and he doesn’t talk much to me lately. This morning however he did talk and beneath it all was a good feeling.
He shared that he and my mom went outside (big development in the middle of Manhattan) and sat on the bench around a playground set up for miniature tennis. He related that when I was a kid the different playgrounds would be used for different sports, whatever they were set up for. But now, the young newcomers just mixed it all up, doing all sorts of activities wherever they wanted. Then he told me one day when he was sitting “they just do what they want and don’t follow any rules.” He said on the left and right of him on the bench were two widows with walkers. He had a walker and walking towards the bench a third elderly person had a cane. She had fractured her hip, used a walker, then a cane, now just carries the cane. My dad was the only man there, the other husbands all deceased. He said that was strange. So they were the senior generation looking at what was following, and as he put it, it is not easy for seniors to adjust to what they see all the time. Quite an understatement.
I said it is very hard for me down in Florida to get used to so many people without manners. Rudeness prevails.
Then I said it is better when he is able to use a walker, but I think he doesn’t always want to be seen with it. He related one story where two kids ran by him, almost knocking him over when without a walker. He seemed to have a quiet acceptance of all that was happening. I shared that the golfers in golf carts often almost hit the walkers, which personally happened to me numerous times. They are arrogant, self-involved and not aware of what is around them.
My dad then brought up the danger of delivery bikers where he lives, and how reckless and dangerous they can be. Most don’t speak English and treat you with disdain. My dad has been a liberal his whole life, but he then said when watching TV every other channel had a non-Caucasian on it. He said it was a different world then what we grew up in, hard to adjust to and something we have to learn to live with. I said some people can’t get used to it. He said people are reacting. He continued to say that it is not foreigners they are against, but certain attitudes that undermine our society, even though it is true our society has also lost much of its substance.
Through the whole conversation my father did not lose his cool, as sometimes he does with personal matters, and he said that it is good to be aware of our surroundings and what is happening, but through it all to keep an underlying positivity underneath it all. Hard to capture in words but had a good feeling to it. Just spoke to my mom today and she said he is not feeling well, too much strain, doing too much. Not great to hear this, but glad I heard what I did before.
As is often said maybe it's part of getting older. It seems when resting but not asleep or during arbitrary moments during the day images or phrases having no significance flash by me. For instance, the phrase 'the rib on the watermelon' came to me. What the heck is that? Another time when resting I saw in my mind's eye about 35 feet away four aging ladies neatly dressed in a mall in one of the walkways on a circular lounge staring in my direction but not at me. That was it.
There is also a realm when I'm up but not focused where my mind wanders through different scenarios. One can say it all has meaning because nothing is by accident. But it seems most are random and scattered without substance. Perhaps it's my electrical circuits cleaning themselves out. Or wearing out? I'm curious if this happens to others. After a lifetime of always looking for meaning I'm now receiving meaninglessness. Ha.
Desires don’t disappear
I was surprised to observe that as one ages the sensual needs become more prominent. Normally one would associate aging men with a diminishing libido and a lower testosterone level. This is so, but what is also so is that heartache and pain weighs one down more than ever and one needs an escape. These desires maybe are not prominent, but they are still there. They affirm one’s existence.
Age challenges what you think
I have a neighbor Carol, who has done a little bit of this and that to earn a living. She had been married three times. Besides being a realtor, she did motivational speeches using visualizations, positive thinking, and techniques about maintaining a good attitude. Sometimes she visited Israel, where one of children became orthodox and moved there. She prides herself on going with the flow and being economically astute.
A few years ago, before the economic downturn, Carol’s world was beginning to crack. She was overweight, hurt her knee badly and she couldn’t rent out her apartment easily. Her orthodox children were difficult and demanding. Motivational speaking was drying up, and she, tired of being alone, went on a dating site to meet and give men “winks.” After some time having not seen her, I saw of her walking with a cane and looking thin.
One night, early in our acquaintance, she invited me for dinner after I picked her up from the airport (always something for something with Carol). We did some catch up and talked about different things. She said motivational speaking engagements were hard to get. I could see it was hard for her to be positive all the time. Simply put, here she was teaching positive thinking, visualizations and affirmations and in her own life doing so wasn’t working out and she had doubts and was quizzical.
As I do sometimes I drew from my own experience and said, “Once you get past a certain age any take and approach you have on life gets seriously challenged.”
Her face looked relieved and at peace when she answered, “you’re so right.”
These older faces
While running around
grin at me
as if to say
“you don't know yet,
but you will.”
Doesn’t make sense
Sometimes I rage to God about aging. It makes no sense. It’s almost cruel. When you finally know certain things, you can’t act upon them.
Age and aging
Not fully our bodies
When young we think of the body and mind as the same. When we age we realize there is separation. We are linked to the body, but it's not fully you.
Stings still hurt
One would think experience, perspective and smoother edges would shield one from being affected by slights and insults. Not true. If you have to work as an older person in these times you understand what I mean. You might deal with 100 people that are decent enough, but if two are rude and insulting it can really sting. Just ask an older security guard at a gatehouse, or an older salesperson at Macy’s. Unless they have dulled themselves, the slights hurt more than ever. Your patience is thinner, your health is vulnerable, and being insulted and/or demeaned is hard to take. Your dignity is violated. One can try to stay calm, to breathe deeply, protect oneself with a light or meditation or detach yourself from the experience, but no matter what you do, it still hurts. Old wounds don’t heal so easily. A few times when treated so, I was up all night. I knew better. I knew all the right things to tell myself and to do, but chamomile tea and soft candle lights still were no match. The sting just had to heal with time.
Sometimes I've wondered why older people often become quiet, almost with nothing to say. When younger some sought truth, distinguished between right and wrong, and had a sense of justice. After a while many things go wrong. All they see, when looking over the landscape of society is "just get what you want any way you can,” and this seems to work. This leaves them speechless and quiet. What can they say?
Steven B. Nussdorf records his lifelong search to find meaning outside of the normal channels. He uses writing, poetry, and drawing to document this effort.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.