The Inevitable Crush of Time

Posted: 2nd February 2012 by affehaus in words

I was at the grocery store for the purposes of purchasing toilet paper (the reasons for which I was at the store getting toilet paper are interesting enough in themselves, and would consume more space than I am willing to devote to this particular incident), and as I grabbed the $1.39 generic 4-pack, this little old woman walked by me and said, “Don’t ever get old. It’s a bitch.”1  I thought about it, then promised her that I would do my very best to avoid it, which, of course, prompted me to consider the options.  I have a friend that I used to work with who’d always said that getting old was better than the alternative.  I’m pretty sure that’s not, as an absolute, a valid truth, but given as a broad generalization, I accept it’s folk-wisdom value.

So then, what can one do to prevent getting older?  Nothing.  You can’t stop aging.  There is, of course, the conventional attitude that taking care of one’s self, exercising, and living cautiously will extend the number of allotted heartbeats… but on average, that only sticks extra ten years onto life2.   And who’s to say that it didn’t take ten years to do all that exercising and stir-frying of vegetables3?  Further more, that extension is at the tail-end of the life span; basically the backwash.  But even if one lives longer, that doesn’t prevent one from getting ‘older’.

So, ultimately, it’s either die or get old. And I now have it on good authority that the one is preferable to the other.  The question then becomes: how does one know when one is old?  Am I old?  Oh, frak, yes.  I am old.  I know that I’m old, because I can remember when my father was the age that I currently am, and I know that he was an old person then.  However, I only periodically feel the twinges of ‘advanced living’, and think that to snuff it now might be (pardon the pun) jumping the gun.  Now, given that my father was old some thirty years ago, the guy’s got to be in a spit-bib now, right?  No… not quite.  He doesn’t get around quite as well as he used to… but that’s relative qualification.  The old man can still whup my ass on the tennis court.  I don’t quite think he’s to the point that the nice lady was warning me against.  Now, my dad has a friend named George.  George is most definitely old (I believe he’s around 92), and from my understanding, very intimately familiar with the aforementioned ‘bitch’ that continued existence becomes.  George is a tired fellow, and about fed up with being old.  He’s suffered various indignities at the hands of various doctors (competent and otherwise) and suffered the pains of a body that’s worn out its parts.  He’s been there and done that, and now he just wants to kick back with his colostomy bag, listen to talk radio for a bit, and wait for the inevitable.  I think he and the old lady are probably on the same wave length, if not in the same state.

So then… perhaps the woman was saying to me “Don’t allow your continued presence on this planet, or the advancing technology that might perpetuate said presence, to cause you that broken down, hollowed out feeling that you get when you’ve spent more years here than are good for your spirit”, just in a more pity fashion.  Or maybe she meant too old.
In spite of the immediate conundrum presented by ‘if you’re not getting older, you’re only getting deader,’ it seems there is a wisdom in her words that should be heeded.  Perhaps it remains to each individual to decide for his or herself when they have gotten all hollow inside, and to take for that person what would be appropriate measures.



1I have no idea as to what may have been the source of her discontent, nor why she chose me with whom to share her wisdom.
2 It’s got to be true; I read it in a magazine.
3 Then you get into the whole (which we’re not) quality of life thing: how worth living is a life where you’re always tired, and all you eat are vegetables.

  1. Сщьькфв Лушер says:

    I don’t eat right, I don’t exercise, I don’t floss, I want to die sick; yearning for the angel of death, chasing that bitch down the hall, dieing healthy is a bad joke. I think this health craze is nonsense; especially if you’re doing stuff you don’t enjoy, what’s the point of living 10 more years if you hate what you’re doing to get there…but that’s just me and I might be wrong.