As I approach my 70th birthday, I sometimes wonder what it’s like to be old. I mean as in “elderly old” – white hair, slow reflexes, diminishing sense perceptions, pain popping up all over the place, such as arthritis, and near total invisibility to pretty much anyone under 50 or maybe even 60. Unlike in some Asian countries where the elderly are venerated and can walk around like sages, here in the US the “elderly old” who have trouble living independently, are shipped off to assisted living facilities and nursing homes, or otherwise ignored, for the most part.
Unfortunately, I tend to be in a hurry a lot, especially when I’m driving. It’s so unnecessary and so foolish to be in a rush. You’d think I would learn. I believe the city contributes It’s to this. The busyness, the bustle. The need to always “get”somewhere. So I become mildly or often very impatient.
I was coming up a busy street the other afternoon when I got behind one of those drivers I so fervently hope I never become. Sure enough, as is often the case, he was an “elderly old” man who seemed to have no concept of time. (Or maybe he has just the right concept, I don’t know.) He was so slow, and so deliberate, and so seemingly oblivious to anyone behind or in front of him, that all I could do was stew and fume in total frustration, and, yes, with boiling impatience, while I poked along behind. Mercifully, he turned left and I got a quick look at him. I kept going straight. Would it have hurt or caused me to be late if I had just relaxed, calmed down and adjusted to his twilight-zone time frame? Probably not. I CAN relax – if I want to. All I have to do is change my thoughts.
However, I don’t want to be like that “elderly old” man. I don’t want to get that way. I don’t want to keep driving until I’m a menace to the safety of others. I want to know when my time on the road is up. Will me and my car go “gently into that good night?”
I like to think I will be active and mentally alert well into my “twilight” years. That I’ll still be busy and engaged enough to be able to drive the speed limit and not cause potential accidents. But I will likely be just a slightly older version of the person I am now. But who knows? In just a matter of time, if I live long enough, I myself might turn into a calm quiet, maddeningly slow and oblivious, “elderly old” man. I wonder. Aging is a scary thing. Not to be trifled with.
Last updated February 14, 2021