What is Ageing Gracefully?
I remember my youth and belonging to almost every group, not formally as in clubs, associations, or councils, but I could easily participate
within society and easily held conversations with all those around me. Often times, it was as easy as recognizing somebody from English class or as banal as their similarity in age, that was enough to spark a conversation.
Dialogues could focus on anything from current events as important as the first woman in space to something as prosaic as boys and clothes. Many times, there was no outcome desired, no time constraints, just an exchange of ideas and information, simply spending time with each other. We sometimes had things in common, but more often than not, had little in common other than age and the fact that we were in the same place at the same time.
Through the years, I have noticed that I have unintentionally joined other groups; but, unlike those of my youth, it is not as easy to strike up a conversation. I once lived in a small, private, golf-course community where it was common practice to wave at everyone that you pass on the road, so for a time I belonged to that select group. There was a time a drove a Miata, very special group of people; every time I saw another Miata drive by, the driver would wave at me. Again, I belonged to a group, but one where I could not easily strike up a conversation with a driver whizzing by on the freeway.
Other groups to which I have belonged and have had minimal success: parent, co-worker, gym member, and adult student. While all of these can lead to some interaction, none is quite as informal and forthcoming as the group I seem to find myself in now, the Generation X’ers that are ageing and are not quite ready for geriatric medicine, but old enough to be ready to discuss their health problems with anybody with a sympathetic ear.
It seems that instead of discussing current events, boys and hairstyles, I am listening to stories about kidney stones, thyroid problems, hysterectomies, and diverticulitis. When I am not being inundated with personal accounts of doctor’s visits, aches and pains, and prescriptions, the subject changes to an even more horrific account of my conversation partner’s ageing parent’s hospitalizations or even worse, death.
Perhaps, I would feel differently if I were having these discussions with close personal family members or friends, but I can be standing in line at the grocery store, getting my nails done, or sitting having coffee. It is not often that I think back at my youth and would trade my age for those days, but sometimes I think “It would be nice to talk about boys, hair, current events.”
Or, perhaps, in this day of putting everything you have out there for the world to read, see, and hear, there is such a thing as too much
information. What about growing old gracefully, and keeping some things private?