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In the past (more than nowadays) there were specific ceremonies to clarify when one has gone from one stage of life to the next one. A bar mitzvah tells the community this boy has moved into manhood. Other events are physiological such as the onset of menses (woman) or having a child (mother). There wasn’t much to acknowledge one has gone from youth to old age. There is menopause but this varies to age and isn’t often a distinct one day your are one way and the next day you are another. Alas, Babylon! There are no current overt ceremonies to mark ‘you have become an old person”* What I come up with is at 50yo you get the joke ‘it’s time for your colonoscopy’.** The other is a retirement party – neither are greatly satisfactory.

The realization of old age is subjective and gradual. One hardly recognizes it happening except in hindsight when you one day realize you can’t jump from the chair like you used to and you are going to bed at 930PM. ***

I recently realized I’ve hit one of these, and it’s a major one: I am no longer interested in learning ‘new things’. What do I mean by this? It doesn’t mean I am not open to learning. Far from it. What it means is I am not interested in learning novelty items and present day matters. I could not tell you the current and trendy music groups or singers to save my life. I know of TikTok, Instagram, and the like, but I don’t care tuppence to join. My younger patients sometimes tell me of the latest craze or fashion they are into and my eyes glaze over. A young man wouldn’t think like this.

What I am interested in pursuing are things already established, things I haven’t had time or interest yet to do. Take books for an example. New books come out all the time. I doubt I will get to them as I have plenty for old ones to read.

This turning back to pick up what was behind one rather than boldly going where no Spo has gone before needs to be watched. I see this in my father. Being blind, we kids are trying to come with new things for him to hear such as audiobooks and podcasts. We’ve had very little success. He wants to hear the symphonies and Sousa marches he’s always had. Even his diet has become limited to a handful of favorites, much to the chagrin of SIL #3 who likes to cook new and adventuresome things for the children to try. This sounds too narrow to me.

I want to hear all of Mozart’s works and read several classics. This will take me a lifetime, or what time I have left in my life. There is a quiet satisfaction to this approach. The kids can run forward while I sit on the park bench reading D. H. Lawrence.

*I have a vague memory from “Childcraft” a children’s encyclopedia of a Japanese ceremony for a man who turns 70. He gets to don a certain cap in a family ceremony and earns the title of ‘distinguished old person”. I hope this memory is right. I like this notion or seeing age as something honorable.

**This was before the powers that be decided to lower the first time age to 45yo, in order to catch thing more early and make the onset of old age even younger. Stirges.

*** In the fairy tale “How Wang Fo was saved” there is mention of his parents having reached the satisfying age when the night was for sleeping.

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