I am what is euphemistically referred to as ‘elderly’ or ‘a senior citizen’ or ‘well-on in years.’ But if I’ve experienced the alleged ‘golden years,’ I haven’t noticed it. I think that’s because I’ve never allowed my age to be a significant factor in my relationship with people whatever our age differences. There is nothing remarkable about that characteristic, but it has profoundly enriched my life, even now at the sunset of my life. In retrospect, I realize that the catalyst for and maintenance of a meaningful friendship is to appropriately marginalize age differences and keep it that way.
Actually, age differences are inherently deceptive anyway. For example, Person A may be far more advanced intellectually than Person B although Person A is much younger than Person B. Over the years, I’ve also noticed that a person’s positive characteristics get even better as that person ages and that the same person’s negative characteristics get even worse with age. I’ve also noticed an overwhelming tendency for most people to ‘freeze’ during their teens or early twenties in terms of their political, religious, and social beliefs. And so on.
I’m 92 years of age, or should I simply say, “I’m 92 years old”?…Yes, that sounds better. When I was a young man, I vowed that I would not fall prey to geriatric fears. Maintaining that vow requires objectivity. I have easily kept that vow. For example, if I momentarily forget a word or the title of a film, I don’t panic. Instead, I remind myself that on occasion I also used to forget a word or the title of film when I was young. We all have “senior moments,” even when we are teenagers. I know my brain cells are still dancing. And so on.
I also know that my taste buds are still very much alive. When I tell a young person that fruits don’t taste like they did when I was young, the response often is, “You just think fruits don’t taste as they did when you were young. You’ve just lost a lot of taste buds, that’s all.” But when I come across a ripe Comise pear, I know it tastes as it always did decades ago: uniquely delicious! A few days ago, a friend sent me a dozen oranges for my 92nd birthday. I ate four of those oranges in a row. I know they tasted like they did when I was young: aggressively delicious. And so on.
And, best of all, I also know that my capacity for love—like the speed of light—remains constant.