Getting Old – Buts, Blessings and Boldness

Musing… Getting old…

Last week I enjoyed Michael Rosen. In conversation about his experience of hospital and Covid someone had said: ‘But he’s 74’.

Rosen reflects: ‘‘But he’s 74.’ I think about ‘but’. What is ‘but’ about being 74?’

Now I’m enjoying Marilynne Robinson’s ‘Gilead’, the fictional autobiography of the Reverend John Ames, a pastor in Gilead, Iowa. He describes his grandfather, returning from the Civil War:

‘When my father found his father at Mount Pleasant after the war ended, he was shocked to see how he had been wounded. In fact he was speechless. So my grandfather’s first words to his son were ‘I am confident that I will find great blessing in it.’ And that is what he said about everything that happened to him for the rest of his life.’

In today’s paper Christine Webber tells Belinda’s story: Belinda, widowed after an unhappy, unfulfilling marriage ‘… was distressed that she was now 58 and had never lived the life she wanted.’

Belinda decided to change. She moved from a large house to a small flat. She changed her furniture, her wardrobe, her hairstyle…

‘The changes continued. She took up tap dancing and walking and volunteered at the local library – and felt happier than she ever had.’

‘…Belinda had spent decades feeling held back, timid, unremarkable and diffident. But she broke out of that mould and embraced life in a totally new way. Her motto became: ‘You’re never too old to be bold.’’

Musing… depressing sermons on Ecclesiastes 12: ‘Remember your Creator in the days of your youth before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say ‘I find no pleasure in them.’’

After a salutary list of bodily ailments and incapacities the writer concludes: ‘Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets… Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!’

Musing… the alternative… questioning the ‘but’ of being old… finding blessing in difficulties… discovering new ways to be bold.

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