The renowned developmental psychologist, Shlomo Katz, described older age as a window of opportunity to learn from one’s past, forge new paths of self-awareness, and engage the world with a renewed eagerness. Was that my experience?
I was riding the subway one day, holding a Whole Foods bag in one hand, reading the Daily News sports section in the other when a red-cheeked NYU student looked up from his seat and said: “Excuse me, sir, would you like to sit down?” I looked around to see who he was addressing but there was no one behind me, no one even beside me. I was perplexed. Did I look so decrepit that I needed a goddamn seat? To hell with the kindness of strangers!
A few weeks later, I was in the paper products aisle of Costco, eyeing a carton of 36 rolls of Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper. I was about to deposit it in my giant shopping cart when a thought rocked my brain: What if I wasn’t going to live long enough to use all of it? In the event of my premature demise, I didn’t want people rummaging through my stuff thinking I was a hoarder or, worse, had a toilet paper fetish.
An eye-opener involved my sanctum sanctorum, the gym, in which I religiously pray every day of the year. I used to be fanatical in pumping iron, mastering Yogi-like flexibility, and building the endurance of a Kenyan marathoner. But, as my workouts got shorter and less intense, I could no longer deny that no pain-no gain had morphed into just wanting to leave the gym in no worse shape than when I came in.
Over time, little shocks and jolts, most of which I spare you, became par for the course: losing hair where I wanted it, sprouting it in places I didn’t; and seeing my once beautifully straight toes go off in all directions, as if they had minds of their own, seemingly repelled by each other’s presence.
So, leaving aside the issue of my own shallowness, I began wondering whether there was some window of opportunity that I was missing. Nah.
· For Older Age, What Is It Good For (Part II): https://medium.com/@syzygy33/older-age-lemons-or-lemonade-cae6d4f6dc9)
· For Older Age, What Is It Good For (Part III): https://medium.com/@syzygy33/older-age-what-is-it-good-for-part-iii-fc660e079207