Skip to content

Comments on Aging

Comments on Aging

Social Issues Facing our Culture

But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Mortals do not know the way to it, and it is not found in the land of the living. Job 28, 12-13.

“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.” William Allen White

No doubt many men wiser, older and more experienced than I, have expounded on this subject. You might think that would give me pause and cause me to rethink this attempt. But no….I plunge ahead, oblivious to the pitfalls of repetition and the embarrassment of being irrelevant.

Mark Twain, my favorite American author and the one I most often quote, spoke of being seventy in his “Seventieth Birthday Speech”.

“The seventieth birthday! It is the time of life when you arrive at a new and awful dignity; when you may throw aside the decent reserves which have oppressed you for a generation and stand unafraid and unabashed upon your seven-terraced summit and look down and teach – un rebuked. You tell the world how you got there. You explain the process and dwell on the particulars with senile rapture.” I love that last line!

And so, here I go!                                                                                                                                                

As I begin my 75th trip around the sun, it seems a credible time to speak of age and aging.

I have really never minded getting older. It beats the other alternative. I’m thankful for every birthday anniversary.

Currently I am in relative good health. I am not obese, I don’t have diabetes, I don’t have hypertension, there is no evidence of dementia…………….as far as I can determine. I am physically active and still work a few hours a week at my chosen profession. I exercise daily and subscribe to a moderate diet. I don’t smoke and haven’t for almost fifty years. However, I do enjoy a glass of bourbon or two each evening. I remain married to my first and only wife and as we age, at least from my perspective, we seem more and more compatible and have a greater appreciation for each other’s value and contributions to the union. Likewise we seem more tolerant of each other’s shortcomings and peccadillos.

We remain socially active and involved with a group of friends that go back to high school. We attend church regularly and seemingly are growing in our religious faith. We have three fine adult children, all currently happily married and living relatively nearby. We have three, almost-adult grandchildren of whom we are naturally very proud.

Please do not miss-understand, our life has not been entirely idyllic. We’ve had difficulties, we’ve separated, we’ve struggled, we’ve fought, we’ve had illnesses, we’ve had special needs children and grandchildren, we have lost parents and friends. While perhaps different, nothing most our age have not endured.

 

Often the ravages of age are sneaky and subtitle. Again, if you’re in relatively good health and have remained active, your mind still thinks you’re forty. When you’re about four rungs from the floor as you descend the pull-down stairs in the garage with an armload of Christmas decorations and you lose your balance, your mind tells you, “just hop off here and you’ll lightly touch down, as you always have.” Instead, you hit a concrete floor, much harder than you intended, fall sideways and crash into the garage wall. How did that happen? To me? I was always so agile. Get used to it pal, it’ll happen more and more.

Oh! and your doctors die, you favorite barber retires, you have to break in new, younger ones you don’t know and with whom you have nothing in common. You lose yardage off the tee, lots of yardage! Your adolescent grandchildren aren’t nearly as interested in spending time at your house, even with their parents. They still love you as much as they always did, but they have other interests, lots of other interests!

My being thankful for every birthday has much to do with remaining in relatively good health. I contend if you have good health it doesn’t matter how old you are. Conversely if you lose your health, it doesn’t matter how young you are. Our health, like so many things is mostly taken for granted and unappreciated, until we lose it. Also, with advancing age and disease, the decline is rapid and more evident.

While our general health and physical condition is often genetically dependent, there are many things we can control, but often fail to.

The combination of age and poor health is a bad bargain.   Do all you can to protect and preserve your health. All things in moderation. (Wow! Is that original with your Burton? – Such insight!)

And if you live to be old, no matter what your physical and financial condition, try hard, try very hard, not to appear bitter and angry. Smile often, bathe frequently, get dressed each day. I have always contended, an individual’s personality in old age is generally an exaggeration of how they were all their lives.

“Man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be.” Abraham Lincoln

Make up your mind to be happy when you’re young and as you age, otherwise you’ll be a most disagreeable and intolerable old person. I pray I’ll remember that and adhere to my own advice.

Also, I recommend having friends and being a friend. Stay in touch with all your old and new friends. No matter how far you stray geographically, stay in touch. They were important to you once and for a reason. Don’t let time and distance dull their importance. Don’t keep score. If they never call, keep calling, keep writing, stay in touch. I acknowledge, sometimes a person’s friendship means more to you than it does to them…………no matter, stay in touch. Send Christmas cards, remember birthdays, call to check up and check in. One day, one or the other of you will be in crisis and will appreciate a call or card from an old friend. Friends and friendships add to and enhance the fabric of your life.

Don’t let any issue alienate you from your children. No matter whom they marry, no matter how they choose to make a living, no matter where they move or what turns out to be their sexual persuasion, love them, forgive them, and be supportive of them. You will never regret it. And remember, the reason for having children is not for them to care for you in your dotage. While they may want to and insist on it, resist it as long as possible.

Educate yourself. If you don’t have or weren’t able to get a formal or advanced education, don’t stop learning and educating yourself. If you have limited reading comprehension, keep reading, it will improve. Read anything, read everything. If you have an interest, pursue it. If you have a talent, cultivate it. Never ever let someone else dissuade you from your interest or pursuits, no matter their position or status. Believe in yourself as you continue to inform and educate yourself.

Seek and embrace mentors. If someone is encouraging, cultivate a relationship with them. Observe them. Emulate them. If they are successful, learn from them. (That is of course, assuming they are positive role models.)

Cultivate and embrace a religious faith. Learn and subscribe to high moral principles. Believe in God, love God, trust God.

Cultivate and enjoy music and art. If you like country music, rap music or folk music…fine. But occasionally listen to jazz. Listen to Dixieland. Learn about Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, George and Ira Gershwin and Irving Berlin. Learn to recognize Picasso’s works, likewise Winslow Homer, Toulouse Lautrec, Monet, Gauguin, Norman Rockwell and LeRoy Nieman.

Learn to communicate. Learn to express yourself in a manner that others can understand and follow. Enunciate properly. Regional accents are fine and interesting as long as they are understood. Don’t mumble!

Learn and utilize proper dress. If you aspire to a certain position, dress the part! “Cloths make the man, naked people have very little influence in society.” Mark Twain

Be active. Play softball, play golf, dance, swim, fish, and bowl, play cards, play board games, play Bocce ball, play checkers or chess! While some are more physically strenuous than others, they all have one thing in common, you must interact with others.

Have a life mate. Marry, have a partner, a significant other. Don’t go through life alone.

Serve others. Find a way. Give to your church or other charities. Give to someone anonymously. No matter how little you may have at the time, there is always someone who has less. Help a friend or neighbor. Stay with a sick child. Loan a tool, cut their grass while they’re away on vacation. Pay your respect at the funeral home when a friend, neighbor or relative loses a loved one.

Involve yourself in your community. Vote, Volunteer, Participate, serve on a committee.

Laugh! Laugh often, laugh a lot! Laugh out loud. Cultivate your sense of humor. Enjoy humorous friends. Watch the Three Stooges and old Marx Brothers movies. Listen to Richard Pryor and Steve Martin LPs (DVD, whatever format is available). Go to U-tube and view humorous skits and current comedians. Laugh with friends on the golf course, in a bar, at cocktail parties and while dinning out and even at church.

Have a primary care physician. Get annual physicals. Ask for copies of your lab work and learn what’s being tested for and what the standard ranges are for each test. They’re printed on the report. Keep copies and compare results. Develop personal discipline. If your physician advises you to quit smoking, quit. If he advises you to lose weight, diet. Ask questions of your physician, be proactive, listen to your body, if something doesn’t seem right see about it.

To the extent you are able, save money, seek financial counsel, make investments, buy a home.

Forgive and forget. Don’t cultivate or carry a grudge. Don’t spend time with disagreeable and negative people. Hate damages the vessel that houses it more than the object it’s poured upon.

And lastly, remember physical death is not the end! Live as if you know you’re going to live forever.

As you spend the time allotted for your individual life, none of these will insure happiness, longevity or good health. None of these will protect you from tragedy or loss, but they will make the journey more interesting and fulfilling.

I recommend them!

 

Comments on Aging

But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Mortals do not know the way to it, and it is not found in the land of the living. Job 28, 12-13.

“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.” William Allen White

No doubt many men wiser, older and more experienced than I, have expounded on this subject. You might think that would give me pause and cause me to rethink this attempt. But no….I plunge ahead, oblivious to the pitfalls of repetition and the embarrassment of being irrelevant.

Mark Twain, my favorite American author and the one I most often quote, spoke of being seventy in his “Seventieth Birthday Speech”.

“The seventieth birthday! It is the time of life when you arrive at a new and awful dignity; when you may throw aside the decent reserves which have oppressed you for a generation and stand unafraid and unabashed upon your seven-terraced summit and look down and teach – un rebuked. You tell the world how you got there. You explain the process and dwell on the particulars with senile rapture.” I love that last line!

And so, here I go!                                                                                                                                                

As I begin my 75th trip around the sun, it seems a credible time to speak of age and aging.

I have really never minded getting older. It beats the other alternative. I’m thankful for every birthday anniversary.

Currently I am in relative good health. I am not obese, I don’t have diabetes, I don’t have hypertension, there is no evidence of dementia…………….as far as I can determine. I am physically active and still work a few hours a week at my chosen profession. I exercise daily and subscribe to a moderate diet. I don’t smoke and haven’t for almost fifty years. However, I do enjoy a glass of bourbon or two each evening. I remain married to my first and only wife and as we age, at least from my perspective, we seem more and more compatible and have a greater appreciation for each other’s value and contributions to the union. Likewise we seem more tolerant of each other’s shortcomings and peccadillos.

We remain socially active and involved with a group of friends that go back to high school. We attend church regularly and seemingly are growing in our religious faith. We have three fine adult children, all currently happily married and living relatively nearby. We have three, almost-adult grandchildren of whom we are naturally very proud.

Please do not miss-understand, our life has not been entirely idyllic. We’ve had difficulties, we’ve separated, we’ve struggled, we’ve fought, we’ve had illnesses, we’ve had special needs children and grandchildren, we have lost parents and friends. While perhaps different, nothing most our age have not endured.

 

Often the ravages of age are sneaky and subtitle. Again, if you’re in relatively good health and have remained active, your mind still thinks you’re forty. When you’re about four rungs from the floor as you descend the pull-down stairs in the garage with an armload of Christmas decorations and you lose your balance, your mind tells you, “just hop off here and you’ll lightly touch down, as you always have.” Instead, you hit a concrete floor, much harder than you intended, fall sideways and crash into the garage wall. How did that happen? To me? I was always so agile. Get used to it pal, it’ll happen more and more.

Oh! and your doctors die, you favorite barber retires, you have to break in new, younger ones you don’t know and with whom you have nothing in common. You lose yardage off the tee, lots of yardage! Your adolescent grandchildren aren’t nearly as interested in spending time at your house, even with their parents. They still love you as much as they always did, but they have other interests, lots of other interests!

My being thankful for every birthday has much to do with remaining in relatively good health. I contend if you have good health it doesn’t matter how old you are. Conversely if you lose your health, it doesn’t matter how young you are. Our health, like so many things is mostly taken for granted and unappreciated, until we lose it. Also, with advancing age and disease, the decline is rapid and more evident.

While our general health and physical condition is often genetically dependent, there are many things we can control, but often fail to.

The combination of age and poor health is a bad bargain.   Do all you can to protect and preserve your health. All things in moderation. (Wow! Is that original with your Burton? – Such insight!)

And if you live to be old, no matter what your physical and financial condition, try hard, try very hard, not to appear bitter and angry. Smile often, bathe frequently, get dressed each day. I have always contended, an individual’s personality in old age is generally an exaggeration of how they were all their lives.

“Man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be.” Abraham Lincoln

Make up your mind to be happy when you’re young and as you age, otherwise you’ll be a most disagreeable and intolerable old person. I pray I’ll remember that and adhere to my own advice.

Also, I recommend having friends and being a friend. Stay in touch with all your old and new friends. No matter how far you stray geographically, stay in touch. They were important to you once and for a reason. Don’t let time and distance dull their importance. Don’t keep score. If they never call, keep calling, keep writing, stay in touch. I acknowledge, sometimes a person’s friendship means more to you than it does to them…………no matter, stay in touch. Send Christmas cards, remember birthdays, call to check up and check in. One day, one or the other of you will be in crisis and will appreciate a call or card from an old friend. Friends and friendships add to and enhance the fabric of your life.

Don’t let any issue alienate you from your children. No matter whom they marry, no matter how they choose to make a living, no matter where they move or what turns out to be their sexual persuasion, love them, forgive them, and be supportive of them. You will never regret it. And remember, the reason for having children is not for them to care for you in your dotage. While they may want to and insist on it, resist it as long as possible.

Educate yourself. If you don’t have or weren’t able to get a formal or advanced education, don’t stop learning and educating yourself. If you have limited reading comprehension, keep reading, it will improve. Read anything, read everything. If you have an interest, pursue it. If you have a talent, cultivate it. Never ever let someone else dissuade you from your interest or pursuits, no matter their position or status. Believe in yourself as you continue to inform and educate yourself.

Seek and embrace mentors. If someone is encouraging, cultivate a relationship with them. Observe them. Emulate them. If they are successful, learn from them. (That is of course, assuming they are positive role models.)

Cultivate and embrace a religious faith. Learn and subscribe to high moral principles. Believe in God, love God, trust God.

Cultivate and enjoy music and art. If you like country music, rap music or folk music…fine. But occasionally listen to jazz. Listen to Dixieland. Learn about Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, George and Ira Gershwin and Irving Berlin. Learn to recognize Picasso’s works, likewise Winslow Homer, Toulouse Lautrec, Monet, Gauguin, Norman Rockwell and LeRoy Nieman.

Learn to communicate. Learn to express yourself in a manner that others can understand and follow. Enunciate properly. Regional accents are fine and interesting as long as they are understood. Don’t mumble!

Learn and utilize proper dress. If you aspire to a certain position, dress the part! “Cloths make the man, naked people have very little influence in society.” Mark Twain

Be active. Play softball, play golf, dance, swim, fish, and bowl, play cards, play board games, play Bocce ball, play checkers or chess! While some are more physically strenuous than others, they all have one thing in common, you must interact with others.

Have a life mate. Marry, have a partner, a significant other. Don’t go through life alone.

Serve others. Find a way. Give to your church or other charities. Give to someone anonymously. No matter how little you may have at the time, there is always someone who has less. Help a friend or neighbor. Stay with a sick child. Loan a tool, cut their grass while they’re away on vacation. Pay your respect at the funeral home when a friend, neighbor or relative loses a loved one.

Involve yourself in your community. Vote, Volunteer, Participate, serve on a committee.

Laugh! Laugh often, laugh a lot! Laugh out loud. Cultivate your sense of humor. Enjoy humorous friends. Watch the Three Stooges and old Marx Brothers movies. Listen to Richard Pryor and Steve Martin LPs (DVD, whatever format is available). Go to U-tube and view humorous skits and current comedians. Laugh with friends on the golf course, in a bar, at cocktail parties and while dinning out and even at church.

Have a primary care physician. Get annual physicals. Ask for copies of your lab work and learn what’s being tested for and what the standard ranges are for each test. They’re printed on the report. Keep copies and compare results. Develop personal discipline. If your physician advises you to quit smoking, quit. If he advises you to lose weight, diet. Ask questions of your physician, be proactive, listen to your body, if something doesn’t seem right see about it.

To the extent you are able, save money, seek financial counsel, make investments, buy a home.

Forgive and forget. Don’t cultivate or carry a grudge. Don’t spend time with disagreeable and negative people. Hate damages the vessel that houses it more than the object it’s poured upon.

And lastly, remember physical death is not the end! Live as if you know you’re going to live forever.

As you spend the time allotted for your individual life, none of these will insure happiness, longevity or good health. None of these will protect you from tragedy or loss, but they will make the journey more interesting and fulfilling.

I recommend them!

 

 

8 Comments

  1. John John

    Wise counsel from one whom has sought wisdom and understanding. We all are growing. Be mindful of the creature you desire to become.

  2. Diane Hallmark Diane Hallmark

    Bravo! Well written and well said.

  3. M Burton M Burton

    Fantastic Dad, wise advice. Thanks for your guidance, wisdom and love over these years. Nothing more valuable….

    • BurtonB BurtonB

      Kind words, son. Love you!

  4. Leslie Leslie

    Wonderful advice Daddy. Wise words we all need to hear from time to time.

  5. gary clark gary clark

    We arrived here quicker” than I ever thought possible! No way is it possible to already be this old. What just happened? Plans made that go unfulfilled, ideas still in the “drawer” get to that tomorrow! Tomorrow has arrived and I’ve missed today..Great wisdom Bill….should have “paid” more attention to where I was going…however, still have some “ideas” and they are being pursued..Looking forward, this winter, to sharing our bourbon talks once again!

  6. Jon Jon

    Well said Billy Parks! Glad you clued me into your new blog. Nicely done! I know I have always valued your counsel and advice over the past 40 years. Wow, I’m old!

    • BurtonB BurtonB

      Kind words, Jon. You’ve always been wise enough and savvy enough to seek counsel from more than one source and intelligent enough to make good choices.
      I’m truthful when I say, for me getting older has been a pleasure and I hope I can continue to enjoy the journey. I hope you’ll share your insight on other posts, as you see fit. Stay well & my best to your family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *