I love the rambling poem Morituri Salutamus by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which he wrote in 10 days in October 1874 for the 50th anniversary of the graduation of his college class. The last 4 lines of the poem have a special meaning for all of us that are of a ‘certain age’:
Age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress.
And as the evening twilight fades away,
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.
And here’s another 2 lines from the poem that resonate with me:
How beautiful is youth! How bright it gleams
With its illusions, aspirations, dreams!
Yes, we were all young once, and we wanted to change the world. We thought our elders were stupid, slow, and out of date. We walked impatiently behind them as they pootled along with their walking sticks and Zimmer frames.
But hey, we didn’t realise at the time that those tired old bodies still held minds that hadn’t aged a bit. Those of us not afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease but have to our dismay found ourselves of a ‘certain age’, still feel the same inside as we did when our legs and backs were not stiff every morning on rising from bed.
The young have illusions, aspirations and dreams, and have the health and strength to carry them out, but usually not the money. We of a certain age also have aspirations and dreams. We have somewhat more disposable income than the young, but sometimes not the health and strength. However, if we’re fairly mobile and can walk around the block to the cash machine and back home again, we can get out of the house and spend that bloody money on what we like doing.
Yes, life’s a bitch and then you die, but there are definitely some advantages in growing older. I’m 61 – the eyes are not what they used to be, but I don’t yet need a walking stick. I’m living for the moment and loving it!