Getting Old

I don’t often talk about my age, and there are reasons for that.

1) I hate being almost 69. Aging is a betrayal of everything I’ve experienced and learned in my life. I mean, what was the fucking point if I was going to die anyway? Religious people will say, “But you end up in heaven when you die, and you take all that experience and learning with you.” My response to that is “Bullshit,” because I’m an atheist.

Consider the other life forms that share our planet. Many of them (dolphins, whales, elephants, etc.) create societies and communicate with each other, and then they die, and whatever hasn’t been passed on to the next generation is lost. Humans have the edge over them, because we write and record and film almost everything, so we pass a lot on, no matter how useless some of it is. 😉

When we die, whatever we were is lost forever unless preserved in some way. For instance, the books I wrote will remain on Amazon unless someone removes them, so in a way, I will live on past my phsysical death. That’s kind of cool, but I’ll be dead, so I won’t know or care.

Perhaps our energy lives on. Maybe it joins other energy, mixes with that of all the people and lifeforms that died before us, and in that way we live forever in one form or another. But heaven? Pearly gates and golden streets? Give me a break.

2) The body wears out. I did pretty well until I hit sixty-five, at which point, I started waking up with aches and pains, and was damaged more easily and recovered more slowly. I realize there are a lot of people in their eighties who seem to be doing just fine, but until I talk to them, I’m going to assume they’re slowing down too, and are just too damned determined to keep living to let a back twinge or knee pain get to them.

My teeth are falling apart, one at a time. I’m having cataract surgery in a couple of days, and in a couple of weeks, the other eye will be done. I wear wrist and elbow supports because working on the computer often causes me pain, and I’m not ready for that surgery yet.

Sometimes I get up and wonder what new pain I’m going to feel that day, because for many people, pain becomes a constant companion after a certain age. I’m twenty pounds overweight, and I don’t exercise as much as I should, but I can still touch my toes, I walk frequently, and I ride my bike almost every morning. I consider myself to be in fairly good shape, compared to many, and yet I wonder just how much worse it’s going to get.

I am in a state of entropy (a state of degeneration, in this context). I’ll lose more teeth, there will be more pain, there will be times when moving will not sound like a good idea, and I am not in that group that thinks if you’re breathing, it’s a good day. Quality of life will always matter more to me than quantity.

I mentioned the cataract surgery. I will be spending money I don’t have to improve my eyesight, because the last time I was out with the camera, all I saw was blur. This year of 2020 sucked for everyone, but for me in particular, it was the year I painfully passed a 4mm kidney stone, the ache in my right arm forced me to do things in order to continue working, and my eyes got so bad I couldn’t see birds in trees anymore.

Last time I was at the park, I heard one singing in a nearby tree, but I could not see it! That drove me nuts. I thought I saw a shadow in a bunch of branches, so I took pictures and hoped I captured something.

I did. It was a young catbird.

But I swear to you, I didn’t really see it, and that’s what drove me to the eye doctor, where I got the news about having cataracts.

Since then, I have taken no pictures. I’m too depressed over not being able to see properly. Sight is so important to me, I would pay any amount of money to preserve my sight. Fortunately, Medicare covers 80%, and I’ll come up with the rest or arrange to make payments, because I want to see clearly again, and my eye doc assures me I will. But why does crap like this happen to you just because you’re old? It doesn’t seem fair somehow.

I took one other photo that day. Again, I thought I saw a heron in the pond (it was in shadow), so I snapped shots, hoping to get lucky.

This is a little blue heron.

See you next time.

About Fenraven

Fenraven lives in central Florida, which reminds him of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Find him on Twitter and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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10 Responses to Getting Old

  1. bryandspellman says:

    I can relate. Last week I turned 71. So far, I’ve lost one tooth completely. Three more are only half there, and recently I noticed that the back of one of my incisors was rough. I don’t have the stamina I should, but I don’t get even the exercise you do. I’ve lost four toes to diabetes, and am afraid to walk my own driveway (almost 1/2 mile long and a 10+% grade) for fear of wearing another blister that won’t heal. The cataract surgery was years ago, and it has been great, but they don’t tell you about secondary cataracts, so I’ve had four surgeries (two on each eye). They have told me that there should be no need for any further eye surgery, and it has been around ten years with no further problems. My main concern is that I don’t feel that anything I do matters. Not my writing, not my weaving, not my photography. So it’s hard to motivate myself. All I can say is hang in there. I look forward to both your writing and your photography, and I know I’m not the only one.

    Peace!

    • Fenraven says:

      I read about the possibility of second cataracts, but I figure it’s a price worth paying if I can continue seeing bright colors, reading, and writing. At our age, we’re at the maintenance stage: just keep things operating as best we can.

      Thanks for your kind comment. Sometimes I feel like I’m shouting down a well, and it’s nice to hear what I have to offer is appreciated.

  2. Shirley Ann Speakman says:

    Yep its tough getting older at least here in the UK your health is covered but since Covid everything is months behind just a procedure today I was to have had in April. Love all the pictures I hope your eyes are better soon.

  3. suze294 says:

    Good luck with the surgery – not had it myself but others that have report excellent results – you’ll be back behind the camera in no time!

  4. jeffbaker307 says:

    Best on the surgery! I had a bunch of that when I was a kid! (60 now!) The pics are wonderful! Take care!

  5. W. Lotus says:

    My mom had both eyes done with excellent results. As a fellow photographer I get it.

    “Aging is a betrayal of everything I’ve experienced and learned in my life. I mean, what was the fucking point if I was going to die anyway?” I’m a lot younger than you, but I’ve been asking that question too. (I seem to always arrive at these kind of questions long before much of the rest of my age cohort does.) I’ve been slowly adopting the idea the point is to live a life that is meaningful to me. That’s all. That’s it. It isn’t about what kind of lasting impact I have, which is a relief as someone who has spent a lot of time grieving over not being globally influential. After I die I won’t know or care whether people remember me, because I’ll be dead. But right now this moment there is a whole world of experiences and people for me to enjoy, and I am doing my damnedest to do so, even if it is as simple as losing myself in a music track I’m listening to.

    • Fenraven says:

      I’ve come to the same conclusion. Animals are born, they live, they die, never realizing their existence is limited. Humans know better, and we should strive to live the best lives we can, enriching ourselves along the way. Learning and doing and sharing what you can is what’s important.

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