Author and political activist Barbara Ehrenreich, age 76, has come to terms with aging by writing another book: Natural Causes. I’m a great fan of Ehrenreich; over her long career she’s written numerous well-researched and well-written books like Fear of Falling and Nickel and Dimed. Now she takes on the wellness industry, claiming that we’re being scammed by promises that if we try hard enough we can stave off the inevitable. Her conclusion is similar to that of Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel, with more of an edge.
“Old age isn’t a battle,” she says, quoting Philip Roth, “old age is a massacre.” In the past few years, she has given up on screenings and scans. Not that she is lazy or suicidal. But at 76, she considers herself old enough to die. All the self-help books aimed at her age group tell her otherwise; they talk of “active ageing”, “productive ageing”, “anti-ageing”, even “reverse-ageing”, with a long life promised to anyone who makes an effort, regardless of factors such as genetics or poverty. But to her, ageing is “an accumulation of disabilities”, which no amount of physical activity or rigorous self-denial can prevent. If she has symptoms, she’ll have them investigated. But when a doctor tells her there could be an undetected problem of some kind, she won’t play along.”
Longtime singer, songwriter, musician and activist Joan Baez, age 77, has come to terms with aging by announcing her final tour and releasing what may be her final album. She’s coming to Seattle in November; I have tickets.
I’ve come to terms with aging by realizing that daily school pickup and after school care exceeds my energy and patience levels, no matter how much I love my grandchildren. Having them here for a couple of hours every week and sometimes a visit on weekends is lovely. Having them daily is not. Amy’s mom Heidi, who lives with them, still does a great deal. And they have hired a full time nanny.
And you? How are you coming to terms with the age that you are? 🙂