The Old Coot explains the process

By Merlin Lessler —

The aging process we humans undergo is steady, silent, but hidden much of the time. It’s not just something we encounter in old age, when more drastic alterations to our physical and mental conditions occur. It’s with us our entire life, though for years it goes unnoticed. When we’re kids we don’t usually notice it until an adult looks us over and says, “Wow, you’re growing like a weed, really getting big!” 

We get periodic wake-up calls; they become most noticeable in our teens and then again in our 30’s. I still remember my first big, aging alarm; it hit me when I was showing my young daughters how I could do a running flip and land on my feet. I ran, I bent down, planted my hands on the ground and flipped; but not all the way around, not far enough to land on my feet. I landed flat on my back. It hurt my ego a lot more than my backside. 

A sign of aging pokes its head out every so often, reminding us that the process is proceeding. When the doctor first said to me, “You have to expect that at your age.”

I was in my fifties. Just more evidence that the physical vehicle I was traveling in was amassing six digit numbers on the odometer. Eventually, we hop on the “old coot” roller coaster, where the aging process comes out from behind the curtain and walks by our side. 

We fight it, with denial. “I may not be able to jump very high or run as fast as a turtle, but I’ll get better,” that’s what we tell ourselves. “It’s just a temporary thing.”

Oh, how comfortable the denial stage is. Eventually, we hit an acceptance stage. We learn to laugh at our infirmities. It’s like we’re in an amusement park with a wide variety of attractions: sore back one day, weak knee another, stiff neck that won’t let you look left and a hundred other “amusements.” Once you reach this plateau, all you can do is keep laughing, smile, groan and moan a little, and carry on.

What the heck; you couldn’t wait to get into an amusement park when you were a kid; now you’re in one every day. Enjoy it!

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