Thursday, May 26, 2011

Drinking The Mortal Brew: Poor Old Granddad, I Laughed At All His Words...

"Not the youth, but the old man who has lived life well, is deemed to be happy. The youth in his prime is made distraught and baffled by fortune; the old man, as though in port in his old age, has brought safely into harbor the goods he scarcely hoped for before, and has secured them with unfailing gratitude." - Epicurus, 9th Vatican Saying

At 30, I don't feel like I've earned the right to talk about this one yet. I am hardly established, my family is young, and the line about the youth being 'distraught and baffled by fortune' sounds an awful lot like me an awful lot of the time. I look forward to being able to chuckle at the truth of this vatican saying in my old age, but, until then, I think a cautionary word from George Orwell serves me better:

"At fifty, we all get the face we deserve".

Although--to go back to Epicurus--I have known many old people who have been distraught, grumpy, and generally lost by life. Old age doesn't seem to be a guarantee of wisdom and calm. In fact, it often seems to take the uncertainty and discomfort of youth and compound it, because people are often unwilling to consider new perspectives, especially as they age. Many old people have given up. Many have settled into their opinions and comfort zones and become decidedly less interesting. And some seem to be exactly the admirable and clear-eyed types that Epicurus is describing. I've also met enough calm and composed youths to question the other half of this equation.

Whatever the case, I'll keep this one in mind, along with the reminder from Orwell, who seems to share some of my feelings on the subject.

I should also add that what I just did there--questioning the source of one of my ancient guiding texts--isn't something devout religious folks are free to do. If you come across a christian blogger who writes around scriptural wisdom, you probably won't find them quoting a passage from the bible and then saying, 'ah, but I'm not so sure this one is true. Let's withhold judgment for now.' It's the obligation of the faithful to force their mind to rationalize a way to accept even the most dubious scripture.

I think that's why many christian apologists are so good at sophistry. They get a lot of practice in their daily internal lives.


the elegant ape said...

I intend to live forever, or die trying....

Willie Y said...

Other than wakeing up with some sort of pain every day and knowing you are getting closer to that dirt bed, old age is not to bad.