In the blend of balmy summer air and the equally seasonal and thoroughly natural decomposition of old age it is not infrequently that one becomes provoked to sentimentality. I’ve heard it said by one whom I trust that old age promotes bleary eyes. Given the absence of those to whom we so often tearfully allude, one has to question for whom indeed the bell really tolls. Is it for the loss of someone dear? Or is it rather the distress of our abandonment which propels the grievous alert?
To reconnoiter with those who have gone is frankly not something I commonly do. If pressed on the point I would instinctively respond that what’s done is done; that I haven’t the simmering need to rewrite history. Yet there are other moments when I am suddenly confronted by a re-examination of the past and a wistful glance in that direction.
The truly sobering recognition of the backward look is the frightful possibility that you are now no better than they! Alternately that they never overcame inadequacy more efficiently than oneself. Seeing others in the same light as oneself is by far and away most unflattering. At the very least it is bracing.
There is no purpose prolonging these penetrating interludes. The more productive focus is upon the moment. Not the past nor the future. The unqualified advantage of old age – and perhaps the more fulfilling sequel to any look at the past – is the unrestrained commitment to the present. It is this priority that invites limitless buoyancy. To conduct one’s remaining years otherwise is but a logical subterfuge from which there is no assured escape.