By David Joel Miller.
Has your life become – just sitting?
Recently I have been talking with and hearing from an increasing number of “older people.” In the past, I have steadfastly avoided learning about the elderly in the belief that I did not know any of them. This belief, that neither I nor anyone I know is yet in that elderly class is constantly getting challenged by people who ask “How old are you?” with an incredulous look.
Those annoying people who sell medical insurance continue to force this topic on me by sending me advertisements asking me to switch my old age insurance to their company. Worse yet they have been sending those notices to me for some years now. One of my life goals has become to outlive some of these annoying insurance companies.
My thinking, at this junction, is that being old is a combination of the effects of the physical process of aging and the mental attitude one takes towards this process. Self-care along the way is certainly a factor. Unfortunately, I learned that life lesson later rather than earlier. While my body may be accumulating aches and pains, defects of the body, I continue to work on keeping my mental faculties working.
I read somewhere that when you get old you just sit.
This was reported in an article about a woman who had passed her hundredth birthday. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I can see that it might be nice to be relaxed and no longer stressed running hither and yon. But then it might also be that once you stop moving, at least mentally, your life loses purpose.
I have forgotten who that woman was or what age milestone she had just passed. This is a shame because I have a long-held belief that once you start school you have to stop counting half-years as in four-and-a-half and you do not get to begin counting those half years again until you pass that hundred mark. Anyone who lives past one hundred years ought to be recognized more than once per year.
You are all invited to my one-hundred-and-a-half birthday celebration. My fervent hope is that I will be able to attend it with you and will be lucid enough to realize what this gathering is for.
It has become apparent to me however that a lot of people entering those golden years have neither gold nor years. In fact, one great loss among the elderly is a loss of purpose. What do you do when you can’t go to school or work?
Young people are rushing to enter their disabled-years.
It is fully understandable that as we age we can accumulate injuries and disorders. As life moves on some people find it hard to get up and move around. For them, life’s high point may well be waking up and being able to watch some video entertainment.
What surprises me is the number of very young people who are resigned to sitting worshiping a talking box or a moving wall image. Have you all not heard the more time you spend seated the sooner that chair may become attached to your anatomy?
Despite all the encouragement to get up, out and exercise, more and more people past the age of 5 seem most motivated to sit as much as possible.
Has exercise become a spectator sport?
Lots of people drive in their cars (seated) to a sporting event where they can watch (seated) athletes perform. This is sometimes called “playing” a game. Though most sporting events past preschool take on all the playfulness of gladiator bouts.
An oft-heard life plan is to work hard enough to make enough money to be able to sit around and do nothing. Once you retire from the active world of work, it would appear that you have to join a gym, take up golf or otherwise pay others to allow you to exercise.
Why are there so few hero action figures of old people?
There was a time when old people figured prominently in our culture. Think of father time and the Greek god Zeus. Now that I think of it the Christian deity, when he gets any consideration at all is depicted as an elderly man.
It will soon be Christmas. Santa Clause used to be a prominent personality at this time of year. The last few years Saint Nick, and his propensity for generosity has been losing ground to Ghosts, vampires, turkeys, the babies of the New Year and cupid. Getting the latest entertainment device has supplanted giving the gift of happiness in our common lives.
My suspicion is that one reason for our cultural shift from old people and wisdom to preschool heroes is that giving required getting up and doing, while receiving can be done passively in a seated position.
If, at this time of year you find yourself “just sitting”, my hope for you is that this is a reward for a lot of lifetime doing, not the beginning of your resignation to spending the rest of your life in the not doing, seated position.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books