Sunday, March 18, 2012

More or Less Taboo

Aging. Therefore a story by novelist Louis Begley in today’s NYT Sunday Review caught my eye: “Age and Its Awful Discontents.” The inserted subhead says: “Is there anything good about getting old? No. Its gifts are bitter.”

This is modernity’s uncensored judgment; it rarely sees print. The ads instead show us busy, active seniors just getting ready, thanks to NevDyX-Plus (but do, by all means, ask your doctor), to go sky-diving with fetchingly silvery friends. Physical deterioration is certainly a challenge-plus. Mates, friends die, hence loneliness knocks on the door. The subject is taboo because in the official view, thus in the naked public square, a whole dimension of human life is missing—its meaning and ultimate direction.

Is there anything good about getting old? Yes, actually. We know a great deal more and, with age, the knowledge is more certain. The trip is almost over, and at its end a longed-for destination. This last leg, of course, is best shared. But even all alone a certain delight sometimes makes itself felt. Reunion with the dearly departed comes closer with every visit to the ER room.

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