Why and when do we think of the elderly as elderly?
At what age are we ‘young’ and they are ‘old?’
We say “They are so old, get with the times” or in reverse, “Back in my day…”
As a child we look up to our parents and those around us. Ok. Maybe not in respect but still, the dominance pattern is already set there by default. Even with parents who are very carefree and open there will still be a power difference by virtue of being parents. As we grow up, at some point we recognize that chronologically our parents are ‘old.’ That dreaded time when the child tells the parent, maybe when the parent is in their 30’s or 40’s that they are so old. The parents hopefully disagree and don’t actually feel that old. The parent looks at the child and sees how young the child is and maybe how much more maturation is needed. As well, the parent may then be forced to look at their parents and in the same line of thinking see the aged nature, the place in the future that they will also occupy. Decreased energy. Slower movements. Aches and pains. Complaints of better days and the way things were. Not all grandparents are like this but the stereotype is still prevalent. The grandparent or elderly (in comparison to myself) may look back on their own life and those around them. The memories of youth and vitality that isn’t present anymore.
Perhaps those older would like to pass on wisdom that was hard earned through life but they fear that those younger may not get it as they haven’t gone through those time themselves to appreciate the wisdom. Instead catch-22.
We live. We die. While physics may show that were are in a perception of linear time we see and measure the chronological passage and make judgements based on that.
With life at its own pace I can’t really say I have every thought of myself as old or young. Do I have words of wisdom to impart to another? I’d say yes and not even just to someone younger. I think there are people older than myself that forget they will and can learn until the very end. As well I hope to be a sponge for the rest of my life, to continue to be fascinated and appreciative of each moment.
I am as old as I feel. We might look at someone our own age in whatever generation and sometimes lash out at those that are not ‘acting their age.’ Generally it seems more an issue with guilt and anger of the person saying it and for not choosing to make certain decisions that they would like to and feel some societal/cultural pressure to conform. I play with legos. I watch anime (not cartoons). I like video games. I also like to read and watch sports and play sports. I like to write and ponder and take my time. In many ways I do consider myself a creature out of the flow of time and I really hope that I do stay in that zone. I definitely need to get back into a healthy shape to stay physically well there but mentally is where I think a lot of people don’t seem to be able to make it.
What will it mean in the future when we can extend our lifespan even greater? Going from a lifespan of 30-40 years to 100+ years already we see the passage of time even more acutely. What will happen at 500+ years if that is possible? From a political/societal standpoint, could a politician think so short term of a few years in office knowing that decisions they choose today might effect them for more than just decades but hundreds of years. As well effecting their child, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc for generations to come. World population problems are already a huge problem. There would be no way to sustain things at our current rate of growth and with an increased lifespan I can’t but imagine that we would collapse as a world. The fight for resources too great with the current lack of world maturity.
I’m digressing but I can see us running forward to increase life without being able to understand the consequences. Maybe that will be a defining moment in our future evolution. Do we survive ourselves or will man be the creature that selects himself out of existence?
-Santa’s Fallen Angel