Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Aging Against Our Will

Dear Friends,

We really only have two options with the whole aging thing. We can age gracefully and be grateful that we’re getting older (considering the alternative) or be dragged against our will, kicking and screaming into another year like my old friend David. (NOT HIS REAL NAME)

It was in the early seventies that I went to work as an administrator for a law firm and became friends with David. He was a successful thirty-nine year old attorney whose father had been a Hollywood director and David had inherited the family wealth. David was a withdrawn and unassuming bespectacled man with ordinary features and a bald spot that his Yarmulke neatly covered during Jewish holy days. He dressed in custom-tailored silk suits and refused to own a shirt unless it had french cuffs and his initials monogrammed above the pocket. He lived a quiet bachelor's life in a hillside house, with only his two cats providing companionship. 

Within a week after David turned forty, he took his gold card to Millers Outpost and, among the twenty year old shoppers, bought enough new outfits to open a small store of his own. From that moment on, he came to work at our conservative law office dressed in the style of the seventies: bell-bottom pants, handmade leather belts and sandals, billowing paisley shirts and a gold chain with a peace symbol. He stopped going to the opera and listening to classical music and started coming into work late after being out all night at Beverly Hills clubs. We snickered when he traded in his wire-rimmed glasses for contacts and his Lincoln Continental for a burgundy Dino 246 Ferrari. We laughed when he let his remaining hair grow long and bought a leather Greek fisherman's cap to cover his bald spot. We stopped laughing when he started to regularly date one of our twenty-three year old clients who had just become the Playboy Playmate of the Year.  

But I was filled with concern for my friend. I saw a conservative forty year attorney frantically trying to erase fifteen years from his life by disguising himself as a hippy. Every waking moment seemed to be further spent grasping in the darkness for his elusive fantasy of youth and the stress predictably began to show in his work. A well-kept secret from his partner, a criminal defense attorney, was David's use of marijuana and cocaine. Like a deprived child discovering the delights of chocolate ice cream for the first time, David excitedly told me that cocaine made him really happy and he was sorry that he had spent so many years without it. 

David's social life became increasingly more frantic along with his involvement with recreational drugs. At Christmas time, David gave extremely expensive one pound packages of high-grade marijuana to all of his friends, and his feelings were hurt when I gave mine back. He invited me to his numerous parties and I politely refused. There was a fifteen year age difference between the two of us, but the ever-increasing difference in our matureness had eroded our friendship.

David's incredible mid-life folly left such a strong impression on me that I often remember him around my own birthdays. When I turned forty, I decided to do nothing foolish about becoming "middle-aged" to see what would happen. What happened was that today I need three pairs of eye glasses to keep me from stumbling through life. My back hurts with a minimum of overexertion and I can now accurately predict the arrival of a cold front by the degree of arthritic aching in my finger joints. I've noticed that health issues are now at the forefront of my mind and I recently embarrassed my favorite girl. We were at a coffee shop and the waitress came to our table with a pot in hand. “Regular?” she asked. I replied, “Yes and thank you so much for asking! I've increased fruit and fiber in my diet and it's been very helpful.” 

As I look forward to my eligibility for Medicare in a few days, I think about my old friend David and wonder if he ever allowed himself to mature gracefully. For only then could he enjoy life and welcome the peaceful happiness that comes not from the reliving of our yesterdays but from the celebration of our todays. 

I have a button that says, “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly.” I may as well just go ahead and put it on since I’m never gonna be any younger than I am right now...

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The AMEN Corner is a weekly devotional for the family and friends of New Hope Family Church. It is intended for this devotional to be strengthening, encouraging or comforting and your comments too should be for the glory of God and reflect the intended purpose of these posts.

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