AGING: Poets agree: Old age is still old ageSomeone (and maybe I truly deserve it) will accuse me of emphasizing the negative today.
By: Bernie Hughes, The Daily Telegram
Someone (and maybe I truly deserve it) will accuse me of emphasizing the negative today. Positive is better and I most certainly agree with that. On the other hand, if only we look at the positive, will it sooner or later be seen as a “snow” job? (Even Sam Cook couldn’t speak well of that kind of snow)
Regardless of our most sincerely telling ourselves and our loved ones. “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be;" it really isn’t the whole story. Aging is not all peaches and cream. You remember Henry Wadsworth Longfellow? He told us a lot of things and I think his poem on old age is one I now am old enough to agree with:
Whatever poet, orator or sage
May say of it, old age is still old age.
It is the waning, not the crescent moon;
The dusk of evening, not the blaze of noon;
It is not strength, but weakness; not desire,
But its surcease, not the fierce heat of fire,
The burning and consuming element,
But that of ashes and embers spent,
In which some living sparks we still discern,
Enough to warm, but not enough to burn,
What then? Shall we sit idly by and say
The night has come, it is no longer day?
The night has not yet come; we are not quite
Cut off from labor by the failing light,
Something remains for us to do or dare,
Even the oldest tree some fruit must bear,
For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades way
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.
And so, I try to see those stars, my good luck stars. One is still my ability to be out and about. The increasing number of relationship funerals are reminders of my good luck. I’m doing some volunteer work which is some of the doing, but what about the daring? We avoid taking risks, even minor ones, that once would have been child’s play. Have I put on the no-risk dress too soon?
An elderly Superior friend speaking of some family health problem (Alzheimer’s) said, “We have to play the cards that we’ve been dealt.” So true isn’t it? But maybe we have to bid ’em high and sleep in the street if things should happen to go from bad to worse. Did you see the movie, “Bucket List?” Nicholson and Freeman made their bucket lists (things to do before kicking the bucket). Dag nab it, I’m going to make mine!
Instead of an attempt to be funny, let me conclude with a poem that I’ve kept for years. I’m not at all sure that I ever had an inkling as to who wrote it:
Is anybody happier because you passed his way?
Does anyone remember that you spoke to him today?
This day is almost over and its toiling time is through,
Is there anyone to utter now a friendly word of you?
Can you say tonight in passing, with the day that slipped so fast,
That you helped a single person of the many that you passed?
Is a single heart rejoicing over what you did or said?
Does one whose hopes are fading now with courage look ahead?
Did you waste the day or lose it? Was it well or poorly spent?
Did you leave a trail of kindness or a scar of discontent?
Bernie Hughes, Ed.D., is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at Bernie1@cpinternet.com.