I’m Not Getting Older…

I used to send this to friends turning fifty:

Is not old wine wholesomest, old pippins toothsomest, old wood burn brightest, old linen wash whitest? Old soldiers, sweethearts, are surest, and old lovers are soundest.
John Webster c. 1580 – c. 1625
Westward Hoe [1607]

And here are two more old versions.

Alonso of Aragon was wont to say in commendation of age, that age appears to be best in four things – old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.
Francis Bacon 1561 – 1626
Apothegms [1624]

I love everything that’s old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines.
Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774)
She Stoops to Conquer

We’re pretty much all over fifty or even sixty now.  A while back, a friend sent one of those emails more or less humorously bewailing the things that happen when you are older.  I thought at the time we would all be better off if we quit bemoaning, even in jest, the downside of growing older, and appreciated the good things.  And now, here is research to prove it:

“How old you are matters, but beyond that it’s your interpretation that has far-reaching implications for the process of aging,” said Markus H. Schafer, a doctoral student in sociology and gerontology who led the study. “So, if you feel old beyond your own chronological years you are probably going to experience a lot of the downsides that we associate with aging.

“But if you are older and maintain a sense of being younger, then that gives you an edge in maintaining a lot of the abilities you prize.”
ScienceDaily 4 March 2010


Researchers at North Carolina State University have found that senior citizens who think older people should perform poorly on tests of memory actually score much worse than seniors who do not buy in to negative stereotypes about aging and memory loss.
ScienceDaily 23 April 2009

The cause of suffering as identified by the Buddha is clinging – the desire for things to be other than they are – and the cure for suffering is acceptance or equanimity, which as far as I can tell is the same attitude as the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

Reinhold Niebuhr

My sister-in-law was reminded of As Time Goes By in a recent comment.  A running joke was Rocky’s devil-may-care youthfulness in contrast to Rocky’s stodgy son Lionel, old before his time.  Rocky married Madge, in their 80s, and they honeymooned in Outer Mongolia, riding camels and who knows what.  As Rocky would say “Rock on!”