The statistics on the mariner’s blog show that most readers are between the ages of 23 and 50. This post is advice to them from an old sailor whose participation with those 23-50 youngsters is long cast in bronze never to come again.
The mariner lives in a small town where many are, well, seasoned retirees. He has been able to watch himself age in others; he is fully aware how aging itself tugs the elderly further into isolation. Friends and family pass on; society has less need of the elderly; injuries and decrepit bodies limit flexibility and strength. The mind falls into disuse that is not related to dementia but weakens mental agility just as a muscle is weakened from disuse.
In many cases, there is a hard choice to make between daily pain and drugs that ease pain at the cost of cognitive clarity. As one confronts one ailment after another, drugs are piled on drugs, smudging the line between how healthy the body is versus how ravaged the body’s subtle functions are for living normally.
Often, the elderly live waiting for the illness they cannot afford, the illness that will incapacitate them, the illness that will be their end – a feeling similar to waiting for the second shoe to fall. Yet, faced with these circumstances, they survive. They rise each morning to face the day with self-respect and purpose.
To the vast majority of you in younger generations, these feelings and circumstances are alien. You have too much to do, too much to discover, too many dreams and goals – there is no room for the sensations of aging to coexist. You are blessed with natural exuberance. You are in the prime of your life. This is as it should be. Every seasoned retiree has had their turn at your lifestyle.
Many seniors, more than you may think, overcome isolation and fight pain and injury tooth and nail. Many are socially and intellectually active. Many by necessity or by choice work beyond circumstances where it may be better to ease off. And many seniors, more than you think, have healthy and enjoyable lives well into seasoned retirement. However, the norm is a daily battle against isolation and not letting their fading vitality prevent them from enjoying life.
The mariner’s advice to the younger set borrows an old phrase: “Respect your elders.” The elderly have fought well battles you do not yet face at odds that grow against them every day. Yet they live. They buy groceries. They have feelings and friends. Be in awe of them for winning the battles that you, too, will encounter.
The immense desire in our society to make the fast dollar, cut losses, and prefer the younger applicant, too many times is at the cost of a fine mind and proven dependability. The American culture in particular must embrace the age of wisdom. The elderly are like tempered steel, shaped by long experience. The elderly have demonstrated perseverance, persistence and dependability. They are a tempering influence. Their years are golden.