By Charles McLaughlin
Being well beyond any doubt as to being old—long past the stage when someone speaking of me would say, “He’s not that old,” I am truly old! So I can speak of age or aging with some degree of authority. I’m there. I’m living it! And because of this given I feel qualified to write down a few notes for those of you who haven’t yet entered this stage of life to consider when cruising around or with those of us that have.
First, this geezer’s definition of “Geezerland”:
Geezerland is a permanent “aha” moment, a moment in time when the sum of one’s thoughts, experiences and awareness of subtle (sometime not so subtle) changes taking place around and in one’s self, enlightens him or her to the reality of what being old is.
For me, this moment was much like Dorothy’s when she was suddenly dropped into Oz and upon looking around remarked to Toto, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore!” She was correct and, I assure you, I was smack-dab right in the middle of Geezerland. So, here I was, without fanfare, no “Lollipop Kids” to greet me…just me in my now cartoonish bag of flesh, mouth agape and astonished that I’d somehow arrived there! The landscape was familiar but now seen from a different perspective … a stranger in a strange land, for it seemed the world and those revolving about me were in warp speed, while I plod about, wobbling and cautious with every step. And it was suddenly clear that time not waiting for anyone was no longer just an adage but an existential fact!
Unfortunately for me, there was no “Yellow Brick Road” to follow from that point on nor legitimate self-help books for geezers, for it takes one to know one, and if a writer were one, he or she would be too damn old to write one! And so it is that I yet ponder the overt and hidden attributes of the metaphoric Scarecrow, Lion and Tinman, hoping I, too, can find the wisdom, courage and heart to lead me through the perils that lie ahead on my path to the great community beyond.
Came then the challenge to maneuver within this new world, learn how to deal with the more imminent mortality of life, treasure the joys, mitigate the pathos and, as a line from the film The Shawshank Redemption puts it, “Get busy living or get busy dying.”
When in the frame of mind of getting busy living, I find just living is a bore, a waste of time and space, and that something needs to be done to make living worthwhile. And therein lies the rub, for I know with a certainty that the things formerly performed with vim and vigor are beyond my present capabilities…gone like the former fire in my loins, and are now precluded or extremely limited by those innumerable vagaries of life “that flesh is heir to.”
So what are the options for those of us who occupy space in this strange and oftentimes frightening new land? How do we begin to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, to learn once again, as though we were a child in knee pants, to discover or stumble across new capabilities, interests that overcome our ennui? What resources are available of which we can make use? I’m convinced other geezers and I are going to have to dig for it, want it badly enough to search it out. In other words, get busy living! The alternative, after all, offers no future!
More to come.