Someone in my Tuesday group actually said their mother told them in all seriousness the famous quote, “Old age isn’t for sissies.” This alerted me to the prompt in my Monday morning writing group, “Being loving to others and most definitely to yourself,” which led to a disquisition by me on old age. The gist of that literary exercise was that people who were unkind to other people when they were younger adults cultivated unkind behavioral habits that reflected back upon themselves. When they grew older those habits were so ingrained in their behavior that their emotional relationship with themselves was nasty. Thus they were living most of their conscious time with a nasty person who treated them badly, and therefore they were miserable.
Those nasty people would certainly be feeling a lot of emotional pain and because of their uncaring attitude probably were in the habit of not taking very good care of their bodies either and therefore after years of neglect would be feeling physical pain too. The opposite has got to be true also. Those people who are in the habit of being kind to other people are cultivating the habit of being kind to themselves at the same time. It is inevitable that over a long lifetime those other people we know as friends will turn over, old friends will move on and new ones will come along. But we are always the person who is here and thus we are the primary recipient of our kind and unkind actions.
It is the sweet kind old people who are considered to be the sissies in common observation and the nasty old ones who are thought to be the toughies. It is the toughs who are seen facing old age with grit and grimace and the sweet ones who are all smiles and cookies. But who is it that has cardiovascular problems and cancer, the diseases that between them kill over half of Americans? It’s the high ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) people who grow up nasty, and live nasty, brutish and short lives. They, on average, don’t get to become old and those who do don’t enjoy old age. My conclusion:
Old age is for sissies, sweet happy old sissies.