Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pleasures and Anxieties of Aging

I guess its aging, not retirement that I was thinking about and its taken me this amount of time to get clear on how to say it! I taught a short course at the senior college that is associated with our university system entitled, Living Later Life. In later life we are thrown back upon ourselves. I read books by James Hillman PhD who addresses the issues. He is an Elder in the field of psychology. One of his books deals with how the aging process reveals and develops character. Character, thats a thought! Our culture and education system does not give much thought to the development of character in our youngsters and sadly, it is showing. I'm going to share a quote from an interview with Hillman, one that I enjoyed and chuckled over.
Another thing that old people often report is enjoying the simple pleasures of the day, and the pleasure of the seasons, of seeing spring again, or the snow. I've also noticed how enjoyable memories are. reviewing our lives can be a pleasure; it isn't just contrition and guilt and remorse and regret and so on. There's as strange pleasure in going back over things. And it isn't just that you go back over tham, but they come back to you. you can't believe it. Where did this come from? They aren't just memories, but scenes you can re-enter and rediscover things you once lived.
Many pleasures are lost in the medicalization of old age - most of all, the pleasures of the senses. You take pleasure in eating, or a good sleep. You can sit in a chair and enjoy it. But medicine has turned old age into an exercise program, a diet program a passion for dosages and prescriptions. This is not life, but a substitute, full of anxiety.


Morning's Minion said...

I think it is indeed about aging--the astonishment that we have arrived at this point in our lives so suddenly.

Angie said...

MM sent me here and I am so glad. Your post made me think ...yes I have aged since I turned 60 ...maybe because I wanted a quiet life and was fedup putting make up on ...yes I have put on weight, partly contentment and the dicovery of so many bakers shops up here in Scotland but partly due to being told I should give up smokimg...something I had done since 14... I managed it with the encouragement of two grandsons on the way. Now I am moaned at and made to feel guilty that I am so overweight. The thing that annoys me is that one of my few pleasures is food ...all types but inparticular sweet stuff ...and going out for the day to enjoy a lunch or tea ...but all the time the thoughts of how many calories or fat content is entering my mouth with every bite haunts me.
I am 64 in a few weeks ...I dont mind being 64 ...although I wish my joints didnt feel 74 ...I dont want to look 54 and glamerous ...even if I lost weight ...done that got the t-shirt why can we not be left in peace to enjoy life at our own pace ...I can spend an hour or more just thinking while I watch the see roll in or out before my eyes.

Sorry I went on a bit ...I'm off to bed and its nearly 2am and I dont care.

zephyr said...

The Hillman quote I used --- older people enjoy the simpler things in life. Sounds like that is what you are doing!! We need to remember that there is no one like us, we are unique and have our gifts, especially at this time of life. We are the guide posts!