Higher Living Reflections

Making Magic: Embracing the Dying Light

It is with anticipation I go for my annual checkup. I am never anxious about what I might learn. If anything, I am curious. No, it’s the Medicare questionnaire and other slights that come from well-intentioned nurses. My doc doesn’t treat me with kid gloves. He is direct, empathetic, good-natured, and never patronizing. He understands I am not fragile and resent being treated as if I am a relic simply because I am seventy-two. So when told I am “of an age” by caring, young, and spry medical assistants, my response is, “It’s called old, darlin’.”

I am not one to deny my age. I don’t hold to, hide behind, or mouth trite, throwaway shibboleths like, “You’re only as old as you feel” or “Age is only a number.” Bullshit. One’s age is important to know. It has something to do with the human body working wondrous magic from infancy through maturity to performing dark magic that causes it to fall apart. So age is more than a statistic. It tells you some very useful, important information. It is a benchmark or marker like a speed limit or an oven-setting temperature.

Old age—seniorhood—is increasingly being treated like a disability. Rather than being wise elder, it’s come to mean a litany of indicators of impending demise. The number is a signal to future of-an-agers to find a place to sequester mom, pops, and other golden oldies.

Place, though, is not only about physical space. It is also a social categorization as in “know your place.” One’s age, however, does not convey everything about you. It is merely one of a person’s many attributes like their food tastes. Still, once one reaches that elderly stage, they face social ghettoization and ostracization.

As my shelf life expiration date nears, I don’t deny it. Instead, I embrace it. I am seventy-two years old. And I can still do. As my late friend Denise, who at age fifty-one was dealing with stage four cancer, said on more than one occasion, “I’m not dead yet.”

So when I complete that requisite Medicare questionnaire that asks if I can stand up from a chair without assistance, I want to sarcastically reply, “It depends on the chair.” Or “If I just ran a marathon or climbed a Colorado 14’er, damn right I will need help.” Nothing new there.

Since I began writing about making magic, my perspective has evolved. It has moved from finding magic to making it to making a game of it. A ritualistic question I ask myself each morning is not about how I will plan my day but how I will put myself in a position to make or find magic. It might consist of a sedentary exercise such as what I am doing now. It might be more active but within the confines of my home such as by gardening. Or it might be dining with friends, playing racquetball, or hiking a mountain trail. No matter what I choose to do or whatever falls into my lap, it begins with attitude. If you think you’re going to have a crappy day, you will. Self-fulfilling prophecies dominate our lives.

At a recent event, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a couple years. I asked about her husband who was a brilliant, insightful, and compassionate man dealing with Alzheimer’s. He passed some eighteen months earlier, she said. She spoke about of his last months but then went on about stuff he accomplished before he passed.

“Glenn climbed Mt. Elbert when he was seventy-three,” she proudly told me.

I beamed too picturing him doggedly making that ascent despite his disability. I made a mental note to climb Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in Colorado, next year. Not only for me but also in honor of my old, stubborn friend who would not allow a disease to suck his spiritual elan even as it was debilitating his body and mind.

In his poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night,” the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas urges us to rage against the dying light. To that I say, “Knock yourself out, ol’ boy. I don’t have time to rage.”

Yes, the gold of the golden years consists of pyrite, and they can be brutal. Regardless, I made a personal promise that I will not become an angry, grumpy, or crotchety old man no matter what. I can’t control the getting old part, but I can the rest.

My daily challenge is to find or create magic. Now, if the Denver Broncos do their part by getting back to winning ways, that will certainly help my cause. 😊

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  • Anthony Gomez
    August 3, 2022 at 11:40 am

    The proper function of man is
    to live, not to exist.
    I shall not waste my days in
    trying to prolong them.
    I shall use my time.

    Jack London

  • Robert Williscroft
    August 3, 2022 at 1:08 pm

    I’m a loner
    And like being that way,
    But sometimes I don’t;
    And then I seek
    Real people and dreamers
    Who know the now
    And chase the stars.

    Robert G. Williscroft

  • Jim Schmidt
    August 3, 2022 at 6:05 pm

    As Bette Davis once said about senior years, “Getting old ain’t for sissies!” I see that you reflect that sentiment, Jerry. Carry on my friend.

  • Rick Posner
    August 4, 2022 at 8:02 pm

    Every day is an “adjustment” process. I focus of being emotionally courageous and constantly curious. The rest of the story has yet to be told. Gotta give in to some of the obvious feelings of letting go without losing your appetite to pursue your passions. Russell Wilson might help, but he will give all the credit to Jesus! I prefer to honor the human spirit and its deep well of soulfulness.

  • Donna
    August 6, 2022 at 1:17 am

    My grandma would say “getting old is for the birds”. Her spirit was broken by rheumatoid arthritis that she had since she was in her 30’s. Back then pain killers were not as readily available and I grew up always aware of her pain and how it affected the family. She died at 74, not much older than we are now. When I think of her I appreciate the magic of just feeling normal.

  • Mary Lou Secor
    August 6, 2022 at 4:16 pm

    One of the battles I fight is the unsolicited comments from those younger in age. I was told by a golfing acquaintance that I was “no spring chicken” which I guess was her way of explaining her outdriving me. Did she not know that, at age 81, I am aware of my spring chicken status? I fumed for a short time until she softened the blow with, “I just hope I can play as well as you do when I am your age”, which then caused me to laugh and then fume again. Or after coming from a gym workout in my gym clothes, standing at the car wash waiting for my car, the young studs sitting, jumping up and offering me their seat. Do I really look like I’m about to fall over? I despise it and love it. So nice to be respected. Just wish I wasn’t “respected” so often. So now I ponder over the idea that if I am no longer a spring chicken does that make me an old hen? These thoughts and laughter keep me “young”.

  • Glenn Blanco
    August 6, 2022 at 8:27 pm

    At a gathering of old friends this past week, this subject came up. One of my early heroes in life, Walt Disney, said it best about getting older:
    “Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.”

  • Henrietta Krivy
    August 9, 2022 at 12:02 am

    So pertinent! I love…performing dark magic that causes it to fall apart!
    So true! Having total right replacement in September. My Jazzercise days
    are officially over!!!